VANCOUVER – SeaChoice found little to celebrate in its third annual report on the progress major Canadian retailers are making to meet their seafood commitments. The report, released today, noted greater transparency from some retailers, but only a 3.3 per cent improvement in performance over all indicators.
Web-based Seafood Progress helps consumers assess the performance of their grocery store against the store’s own commitment to sustainable seafood.
“COVID-19 disrupted food supplies and left grocers scrambling to keep shelves stocked; however, this report includes the eight months prior to COVID lockdowns. When a company makes a commitment, customers expect it to follow through,” said SeaChoice national manager Liane Veitch. “It’s important to ensure sustainable fishing practices but also to protect seafood workers from abusive practices.”
- The Good: Co-op took measures to improve labelling of its seafood products and METRO expanded its traceability program to include sushi. Sobeys and Walmart Canada now disclose how much of their fresh and frozen products meet their commitments.
- The Bad: Costco Canada and Save-On-Foods logged no improvements at all. Social responsibility scores for Co-op and Save-On-Foods decreased because they did not develop clear requirements for suppliers or carry out planned initiatives (respectively). Effective social responsibility policies help combat human rights abuses and poor practices at sea, on aquaculture farms and in processing plants.
- The Ugly: Costco Canada is now the only retailer not disclosing any information about its performance against its commitment. Only two of the eight grocers profiled include all shelfstable products, like canned tuna, in their sustainable seafood commitments.
“Retailers’ sustainability commitments should cover all the seafood products they sell, not just those that are easiest or most convenient,” said Scott Wallace, senior research scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation and SeaChoice steering committee member. “As we start to look to pandemic recovery, a renewed focus on sustainable and responsible business practices is essential.”
SeaChoice is a collaboration of three internationally recognized organizations — the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society — that use their broad, national expertise to find solutions for healthy oceans. SeaChoice is a science-based, solutions-focused influencer, advocate and watchdog leading the next evolution of seafood sustainability in Canada. SeaChoice is a member organization of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, and works with consumers, retailers, suppliers, government and producers to accomplish its objectives.