Posted by... Sarah Foster on Jul 19, 2017

SeaChoice has a new direction

SeaChoice is in the process of pivoting into our next decade of work to continue to improve the sustainability of seafood produced in, and imported into, Canada. After achieving significant progress in the retail landscape between 2006 and 2016, with many of our retail partners reaching their sustainable seafood commitments, SeaChoice is setting a new and ambitious goal of increasing sustainability throughout the entire seafood supply chain – from water to table.

Since it’s founding in 2006, SeaChoice’s focus has been to provide informative resources on seafood sustainability at various levels of the seafood supply chain – from harvesters to consumers. Based on scientific assessments, SeaChoice has created easy-to-use tools that help Canadians make the best seafood choices. SeaChoice has provided advice on seafood purchasing based on environmental sustainability, which is communicated as “red”(Avoid), “yellow” (Some Concerns) and “green” (Best Choice).

One of SeaChoice’s main initiatives has been working directly with Canadian retailers to establish sustainable seafood purchasing policies and to implement market-facing sustainable seafood programs. SeaChoice has always provided this service free of charge, and links this work to its member organizations that have extensive expertise in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

Over the past decade, SeaChoice’s retailer partnerships have been successful in shifting seafood procurement away from unsustainable sources, and in developing consumer awareness of sustainable seafood options in Canada. As of December 2016, SeaChoice is proud to say that our retail partners have either met or almost met their commitments. SeaChoice values and congratulates our retail partners for their important efforts and ongoing commitment to sustainable seafood procurement and consumer education.

The success of our retailer commitments means we have reached a limit relating to our ability to help them further influence change on the water, as the majority of “red-ranked” seafood products have already been replaced with more sustainable alternatives. In order to ensure that sustainable seafood demand and supply continue to increase in Canada, SeaChoice recognizes that it is necessary to increase pressure at different places along the seafood supply chain, instead of primarily focusing at the retailer level.

In the shift away from holding direct retail partnerships, SeaChoice is taking several paths to continue improving the sustainability of seafood available in Canada. Moving forward, SeaChoice will be directing more effort and resources into:

  • Transparency and traceability, seeking improvements in seafood labelling regulations.
  • Verifying seafood labelling through DNA testing in Canadian markets.
  • Using market leverage to improve some of the least sustainable fisheries and aquaculture production.
  • Providing retailers the tools and incentives necessary to improve their sustainable seafood commitments and create their own policies in-house.

This work will be supported by SeaChoice member organization engagement in fisheries and aquaculture management, policy improvements and incentives for improved fishing and farming practices.

To this end, SeaChoice has already marked many significant accomplishments over the past year, including the following:

Seafood labelling and traceability:

  • SeaChoice has been focused on improving seafood labelling across Canada. Improved seafood labelling in Canada means that consumers can get all of the information they need at the point of sale – allowing them to make purchasing decisions based on their values.
  • We released our report card on how Canadian seafood labelling legislation compares with the US and EU, and launched an associated website at labelmyseafood.ca.
  • We contributed to the Canadian government request for input on improved food labelling and supply chain traceability (available here and here).
  • We launched a nationwide citizen science project focused on testing the DNA of seafood sold by major retailers across Canada, with an aim of evaluating the adequacy of current labelling practices.

Continuing market leverage to achieve on the water change:

  • Canada continues to produce and import seafood that is considered “red-ranked”. In some cases the market is not the right lever for making change in these fisheries or aquaculture operations. SeaChoice has instead focused efforts for these species on other areas in the supply chain, such as fisher behaviour, fisheries management, and tracking conditions of eco-certifications to ensure that these fisheries and aquaculture operations improve over time.

Sustainable seafood commitments:

  • SeaChoice has been working with retailers across Canada to internalize their seafood commitments, building in long-term capacity on tracking, reporting and improving their sustainable seafood options.
  • In order to ensure retailers continue to improve their supply chains, we are developing a tool to track how Canadian retailers progress against a suite of measures, referred to as the Common Vision for Seafood Solutions. The Common Vision has been agreed by ENGOs across North America to be the key elements of sustainable seafood procurement.

SeaChoice is excited about the next steps in the evolution of the seafood movement in Canada, and encouraged by our success over the past decade. Over the coming months there will be changes in stores as SeaChoice moves away from point-of-sale labelling with retailers. There will also be changes to the SeaChoice website and iPhone App as we transition away from ranking the sustainability of seafood. Indeed SeaChoice will be launching a whole new website this fall that profiles our new initiatives.

With our retailers reaching their seafood commitments, it is now time to dig even deeper into improving the sustainability of Canada’s seafood supply, and to focus our efforts where the greatest leverage can be found. SeaChoice and its member organizations look forward to continued improvements in the sustainability of seafood available to all Canadians. The future of our coastal communities, national food security and the health of our vast marine ecosystems is at stake in all of the work that we do.

You can find a press release about the SeaChoice transition here.

SeaChoice disagrees with the decision by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to consider farmed salmon certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) as a “Good Alternative”. Seafood Watch published its new recommendation on June 5th, following a benchmarking review of the ASC’s Salmon Standard.

The Seafood Watch benchmarking suggests that salmon farmed on ASC-certified Canadian farms merits the “Good Alternative” ranking—except that Canadian farms certified by ASC don’t actually meet the criteria benchmarked by Seafood Watch.

The benchmarking exercise looked exclusively at the Salmon Standard as written and did not review its practical application. In Canada and elsewhere in the world, ASC has approved Variance Requests that substantially alter the Salmon Standard in practice.

SeaChoice calls on the ASC to take immediate action to repeal its variance request processes, in order to legitimately benchmark to a Seafood Watch “Good Alternative” recommendation.

More information:

SeaChoice media release

Benchmarking & Eco-Certifications

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC): Variances and Process

Posted by... Sarah Foster on Apr 12, 2017

SeaChoice launches labelmyseafood.ca

(Please note that the job postings using the SeaChoice name and logo ARE NOT REAL. They are a scam, set-up to get personal information and money from applicants. If you have applied, and are concerned about how it might affect you – please get in touch with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.)

SeaChoice has launched its new website on seafood labelling the Canadian marketplace.

Visit labelmyseafood.ca to find out more about the inadequacy of Canadians seafood regulations, why it matters, SeaChoice’s recommended labelling action plan for Canada, and what you can do to help!


Posted by... Sarah Foster on Mar 15, 2017

Canada scores an F in regulatory report

Canada’s seafood labelling regulations are insufficient. Businesses and consumers deserve to know more about the fish they buy.

Our latest report found that Canada’s seafood labelling lags behind its primary trading partners (the EU and US) – we gave gave Canada an “F” for its failing seafood labelling regulations.

The full report can be downloaded at www.labelmyseafood.ca

Read the SeaChoice seafood labelling report.

Learn more about labelling and traceability.

 

Posted by... Sarah Foster on Mar 10, 2017

Canadians want better labelling for their seafood

((Please note that the recent job posting for a mechanical engineer, using the SeaChoice name and logo, IS NOT REAL. It is a scam, set-up to get personal information and money from applicants. If you have applied, and are concerned about how it might affect you – please get in touch with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.))


Thank you so much to everyone for lending their voice to demand better seafood labelling and traceability in Canada!

Canadians clearly want the power to choose seafood that is good for the oceans and the people that depend on them. We are thrilled to have exceeded our goal of 10,000 signatures!

While we wait to see if our recommendations are accepted into Canadian regulations, don’t forget to ask these questions when you buy seafood with insufficient labelling:

  • What species is this?
  • Is it wild or farmed?
  • Where is it from?
  • How was it caught or farmed?

Then check the to see if it’s a sustainable choice!

Click here for more information about traceability and labelling.

Posted by... Sarah Foster on Jan 31, 2017

Are you eating seafood in the dark?

((Please note that the recent job posting for a mechanical engineer, using the SeaChoice name and logo, IS NOT REAL. It is a scam, set-up to get personal information and money from applicants. If you have applied, and are concerned about how it might affect you – please get in touch with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.))


You may not be eating the seafood you think you are. And as a result you may be contributing to environmental degradation in the marine environment, modern slavery or even eating seafood that’s not as healthy as you think it is. This is why SeaChoice launched a petition – asking the federal government to improve labelling for seafood in Canada.

Canadians want to know what seafood they are eating and whether it comes from environmentally and socially sustainable sources — or if it doesn’t. But Canadian consumers are currently “in the dark”. How can we know when the information available on seafood packaging only requires a “common” name?

According to Canadian guidelines, a package labeled with the common name “rockfish” could be one of more than 100 possible species, some of which are endangered and others which are sustainably caught. A recent study by Oceana in the United States estimated that nearly half of sampled seafood was mislabelled.

A 2016 study by SeaChoice identified many uncertainties and inconsistencies in official Canadian data – making it likely that Canadians are also subject to seafood fraud. The risk is high – more than half of the seafood in Canadian markets is imported, however current import data does not trace that product back to its source, indicating to consumers only the country where it was last processed, not even its true origin.

In Canada, consumers cannot currently choose to preferentially purchase seafood that comes from legal, regulated fisheries that do not involve human rights abuses, or even that meet our health requirements. This is why SeaChoice asked for public support in petitioning the federal government to ensure that all seafood sold in Canada bears a label indicating the following:

  • Scientific (Latin) species name,
  • whether is it wild or farmed,
  • the location of the fishery in which it was caught (or farm where it was cultivated), and
  • the gear type or farming method.

Legislating access to this information would allow you to choose seafood that makes a positive contribution to the environmental, economic, social and cultural fabric of the community it comes from. It would also put us on more of a level playing field with some of our largest seafood markets – the US and the European Union.

Knowledge is power – and SeaChoice’s newest campaign aims to ensure that all Canadian’s have the power to choose seafood that is good for the oceans and the people that depend on them.

Click here for more information about traceability and labelling.

Posted by... Sarah Foster on Jan 30, 2017

Eating seafood in the dark?

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