Eight years ago, a collection of 20 leading conservation groups — including Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program — came together as the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions to create a resource to support businesses to offer more sustainable seafood choices.
Since then great strides have been made, with the resulting Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood now used by 80 per cent of the North American grocery and institutional food service markets. But just as sustainability practices have become more widespread in that time, so has our understanding of what it means to be sustainable.
A new updated version of the Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood, released this week, is the first to address the next generation of issues affecting sustainable seafood, including social issues like human rights violations and labour exploitation and verifying sustainability by tracing products back through the supply chain.
“The issues have changed since 2008, and the Common Vision needed to change with them,” said Ann-Marie Copping, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program manager. “The basic framework has helped the industry make real progress. We look forward to collaborating with seafood businesses to make and fulfill commitments addressing both environmental and social issues.”
The Conservation Alliance has also released a bank of online resources to complement the Common Vision and support businesses implementing sustainable seafood commitments. The initial set includes resources on social issues and traceability, as well as real-world examples of sustainable seafood commitments. The Conservation Alliance expects to expand this resource bank over time.
The updated vision is the result of a year-long effort to modernize Common Vision to reflect a more sophisticated and broader understanding of sustainability. Updates were informed by input from Conservation Alliance member and partner organizations, with the aim of providing a resource both for companies looking to deepen their sustainability commitments and those still getting started.
Six key steps from the original Common Vision remain the pillar of the resource framework, but they now include more detailed guidance for companies ready to go further.
Those steps are:
- Make a Public Commitment – Develop a comprehensive policy on sustainable seafood that includes time-bound objectives for addressing environmental and social issues and traceability.
- Collect Data on Seafood Products – Monitor the sustainability of seafood products and assess labor and human rights risks within the supply chains you source from.
- Make Responsible Sourcing Decisions – Support sustainable and improving seafood sources through purchasing decisions.
- Be Transparent – Make information regarding the environmental and social performance of seafood products publicly available and report on progress against your sustainable seafood commitment.
- Educate Staff, Customers, and Vendors – Educate employees, customers, suppliers, and other key stakeholders about sustainable seafood, including the importance of addressing environmental and social issues and working toward full traceability.
- Support Improvements in Fisheries and Aquaculture – Engage in policy and management reform that leads to positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture production, including ensuring implementation of core labor standards.
“The issues have changed since 2008, and the Common Vision needed to change with them,” said Copping. “The basic framework has helped the industry make real progress. We look forward to collaborating with seafood businesses to make and fulfill commitments addressing both environmental and social issues.”
Visit www.solutionsforseafood.org to learn more.
Overfishing is the single biggest threat our oceans face today. With more than 650 partners across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. www.oceanwise.ca.