Ocean Disclosure Project calls on seafood industry to be more transparent - urges 115 companies to disclose fisheries where they source product
The Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) has written to 115 seafood-buying companies across the globe asking them to publicly disclose the list of wild-capture fisheries where they source seafood. The initiative is intended to promote transparency within the global seafood supply chain and drive forward improvements in fishery management. Leading companies such as Walmart, Tesco, Thai Union and Skretting Norway have already disclosed source fisheries but there are many businesses that maintain secrecy around seafood sourcing despite the fact that there are few risks to commercial confidentiality.
The ODP wants companies to contribute to seafood transparency as an integral part of sustainable sourcing practices. Relatively few companies have published their seafood sourcing so far, making it difficult for consumers and investors to hold them accountable to their commitments or to understand the environmental risks associated with the fisheries in question. Increasing transparency in seafood sourcing would build confidence in the industry and promote those companies that source responsibly.
Among the 115 companies written to by the ODP are members of the sustainable seafood initiatives Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC). Several members of these initiatives have already made full sourcing disclosures either via the ODP or as bespoke corporate documents. These include Cargill, Skretting Norway, Thai Union, Joseph Robertson Ltd, Cooperative Food, Lidl UK, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer, and Tesco.
The ODP is asking companies to either prepare a bespoke disclosure (e.g. HEB) or work with a partner NGO in developing a public sourcing profile (e.g. Thai Union and Marks & Spencer). Alternatively, companies can report for free via the ODP website; companies simply need to submit a list of species and source fisheries and the ODP will create a profile including information about fishing gear, environmental impacts, certifications and management. Companies that participate in the ODP are entitled to display the logo on corporate communication materials and are recognised via the ODP website and media communications.
“Companies that disclose their seafood sourcing alongside environmental information are better placed to communicate their good practices and highlight progress towards responsible sourcing commitments,” said Tania Woodcock, ODP Project Manager. “The ODP provides a simple way for companies to disclose using a common reporting template.”
Tania Woodcock continued: “We will be seeking to work with all those companies that are interested in promoting transparency and will publish a list of those companies that responded and those that refused. Consumers, investors, trade associations and conservation groups all have an interest in seeing how seafood-buying companies perform against their sustainability commitments and understanding where the fish come from and the associated impacts.”
The ODP was started in 2015 to provide a valuable information resource for responsible investors, seafood consumers, and others interested in sustainable seafood. Today, 19 companies participate in the ODP, including major retailers, fish feed manufacturers, and seafood suppliers from Europe and North America. All ODP profiles and other known disclosures are shared through the ODP website.