Thursday, June 21, 2.55 pm CET

Sustainability is a moving target

“One of the biggest problems we face is that investors are putting their money into a single start-up, but we need those investments to go to a range of producers that can achieve the replacement of marine ingredients,” urged Jason Clay, senior vice president of food and markets at the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).

Likewise, feed companies do not need to invest in a single source of alternative protein only, he said.

But with that said, Clay mentioned one of the most pressing issues for the aquaculture industry is to find viable solutions to feed fish far from land.

Investment into renewable energies such as solar panels to correct nitrogen deficiency in deep waters is crucial for the success of offshore aquaculture.

“The farther out we get, the more sterile those oceans become,” Clay said. “We need to find ways of getting that nitrogen from the air and into the ocean to use it as a way of feed."

--Lola Navarro


Thursday, June 21, 2.44 pm CET

The real fight against modern slavery

Patima Tungpuchayakul, founder of the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN) and one of the most active voices in the fight against modern slavery in Southeast Asia, winner of the SeaWeb Seafood Champions award for advocacy was recognized for her efforts and achievements on Thursday.

Tungpuchayakul played a crucial role in rescuing about 3,000 captive and stranded fishermen from isolated Indonesian islands in 2014.

"I would like to thank the government of Thailand and Indonesia for giving me the support to fight modern slavery in fishing boats," said Tungpuchayakul.

She works hand in hand with workers in the sector, helping them understand the abuses they have undergone, trying to give them a voice in demanding better conditions and in some cases compensation.

"It’s very important to create a platform to empower both Thailand and foreign fishers, we created a labor union to fight for their rights."

--Lola Navarro


Thursday, June 21, 11.11 am CET

The feed of the future

In an industry with so much understanding of its needs, its lacks and its challenges, undermining innovative ingredients from competitors to get a share of the marketplace should not be an option.

Lukas Manomaitis, aquaculture program technical contractor with the US Soybean Export Council, said today one of the biggest mistakes in the industry is to promote a product as “the solution.

“When it comes to feed ingredients, I promote the idea of using soy, but not only soy, what companies fight with others that are proposing viable alternatives do is give the wrong message to consumers,” Manomaitis said.

According to him, the feed ingredient industry should look at change from a multilevel perspective, creating the possibility to work with a number of ingredients to produce high quality, sustainable fish feed.

“It’s not going to be soy alone, and fishmeal or fish oil don’t need to be eliminated, the future is in adding many different products from different sources, algae, soy, insects… undermining other ingredients can have very bad repercussions for the industry.”

--Lola Navarro


Thursday, June 21, 10.35 am CET

Innovation? Should be a no-brainer for buyers

Explaining the incremental costs of products to buyers and get them onboard for new ideas is one of the hardest tasks producers face in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

Feed giant Nutreco proposed a new paradigm when pitching to wholesalers and retailers, involving anyone taking part in the production chain in the sale conversation.

Jose Villalon, sustainability director at Nutrecto, stressed the need to shift from commodity transaction sale pitches to thorough sales meetings on a back-to-back basis that can lead to a full understanding of the actual costs of fish production.

“Consider a scenario where the fish processor approaches the client, the food retailer or food service provider at their sales meeting, but instead of coming to the meeting alone, the processor is accompanied by the fish-farmer supplier, the feed manufacturer and the innovative alternative ingredient supplier,” Villalon said.

“The entire supply-chain present at the retail buyer meeting demonstrating the commitment of the entire value chain.”

The conversation then would shift from a price-based talk to the creation of value, he believes.

For Villalon, the feed industry has done a good job in reducing dependence on marine ingredients and by doing so it has increased its dependence on other commodity ingredients.

The biggest challenge it faces now is to earn its social licenses to operate with high value production and use innovative ingredients.

“It is the buyers that we need to talk costs with, and then also invest in raising awareness among consumers that seafood protein is the best choice from an environmental perspective,” Villalon said.

--Lola Navarro


Wednesday, June 20, 6.22 pm CET

How lenders, investors can help end IUU fishing

Lenders, investors and banks can potentially help in the fight to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which now accounts for around $23 billion of seafood, according to Huw Thomas, the senior officer of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project at Pew Trusts.

“IUU is being addressed though many seafood buyers and supply chains but there is a whole part of the industry has no reputational risk, and is doing nothing to address IUU,” he said.

Pew is hoping that by engaging the banks and talking about the risks of IUU fishing they will include in their lending agreements, bank accounts, letter of credit, “some burden on the supply chain to prove they’re not using the funds to perpetuate the trade in IUU fish."

Watch the interview below:

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, June 20, 5.32 pm CET

Raising awareness is key to adding value to sustainability

International wholesaler and retailer Metro, which has committed to certify 80 percent of its 12 top species under a body approved by benchmark programs such as the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI), sees clear value in sustainability.

“In Asia and the Pacific region, consumers are willing to pay more and more for sustainable products,” said Andrea K. Weber, director of corporate responsibility at Metro. “Everything we do has to have an added value for our customers.”

One of the main initiatives adopted to turn sustainability into a value driver is to offer information to consumers about the origin, fishing techniques and methods used, species and stocks, but to also provide information to suppliers.

“For us as a wholesaler it is important to be able to track down the product from its origin and all the way down through the supply chain,” Weber said.

-- Lola Navarro


Wednesday, June 20, 4.58 pm CET

Global Fishing Watch gaining traction

The charity Global Fishing Watch, which launched in September 2016 by Google in partnership with Oceana and SkyTruth "to provide the world’s first global view of commercial fishing activities", already tracks 65,000 fishing vessels and more are signing up.

While certain nations can be protective of their vessel monitoring systems (VMS) which are considered to be “very proprietary in nature”, transparency in a global seafood market is increasingly recognized as even more important.

As a result, Indonesia has just published its VMS into Global Watch, which will add a further 5,000 vessels, and Peru has signed up too.

“Likewise we have letters of consent from Costa Rica and several other countries – transparency is now a movement,” said Tony Long, CEO of Global Fishing Watch.

Within the next 10 years Global Fishing Watch aims to reveal the vast majority of the world’s commercial fishing activity – capturing some 300,000 of the largest vessels responsible for 75 percent of the global marine catch -- and to increase its ability to track more small scale fishing vessels as well.

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, June 20, 4.46 pm CET

The wrong approach to tuna sustainability

A big focus on FAD-free schools is taking over the general discussion on tuna sustainability, while other subjects such as safety at sea are just not that important for certain stakeholders.

“Why are there markets that are so sensitive to FAD-free caught tuna and yet not that bothered about social issues?” asked Julio Moron, managing director of the Spanish Organization of Associated Producers of Large Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC).

According to him, an excessive – a misleading – campaigning of FAD-free school stocks is taking the focus away from an equally or more important matter.

“It is a real flaw not to talk about social matters, and to put more focus on the health of fish than on the health of people,” Moron said.

In addition, he said there is an "unjustified delay" in the actual implementation of social welfare standards, since there is already a valid guideline that should be used internationally as a point of reference.

“There is no need to invent anything, to come up with a standard, we have the International Labor Organization (ILO) 188 objective, and no one seems to recognize it, it is important that the different countries ratify it and implement it,” he said.

The ILO 188 objective aims to ensure that fishers have decent conditions of work on board fishing vessels with regard to minimum requirements, conditions of service, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health protection, and medical care and social security.

-- Lola Navarro


Wednesday, June 20, 4.20 pm CET

Taking transparency into the real world

There are already tools, mechanisms, and actions out there which can transform the architecture of the world's fisheries and make huge strides towards transparency and sustainability, according to Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

"I want to take transparency out of the conference room and into the real world," he said. "I want to make one point very clearly – I feel that we are missing something right here and now: There are tools, mechanisms, actions we can take today, which can transform the architecture of our fisheries and deliver opportunities for greater transparency and greater management of our resources."

According to Trent, the industry is already able to work towards putting an end to IUU fishing -- which is a critical factor in delivering sustainability -- and there are already actions it can take as well to deliver ethical fisheries.

"We can eradicate forced labor and human trafficking where vulnerable individuals around the world are used to deliver food we are used to enjoying on our plates".

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, June 20, 3.32 pm CET

The time is now for offshore aquaculture

What was once considered “Jules Verne science fiction” is now reality and offshore aquaculture projects are popping up everywhere around the world, according to Neil Sims, co-founder of Kampachi Worldwide Holdings.

Hawaii-based Kampachi itself took nearly 10 years to secure funding for its offshore project, as investors remained sceptical, but now it seems the tide is turning.

Norwegian salmon farmers are also increasingly getting on board the offshore wagon due to the need to expand production in the face of increased demand, most notably with Salmar’s large scale Ocean Farm 1 Unit.

This unit is already stocked with 1.5 million fish, but there are already plans to double this to 3 million. The capital cost of this development is around €150 million which is a “significant investment in to offshore sector”.

But also the likes of Nordlaks, Akva and Cermaq are also taking the plunge in offshore.

According to Sims, at the SeaWeb Summit ten years ago offshore aquaculture was widely criticized, but at this year’s summit, offshore company Open Blue Cobia was recognized as a Seafood Champion.

So this is a clear sign of the times and how things have changed over the past 10 years. “These are very exciting times to be in offshore aquaculture,” said Sims.

Watch his full interview below:

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, June 20, 3.02 pm CET

Engaging the public in the aquaculture discussion

A recent research on aquaculture outreach conducted among 150 respondents in 18 countries in the United States, Canada and Europe by the trilateral Galway agreement suggests there are significant gaps in information about aquaculture provided to the public.

According to the survey, information on aquaculture is generally given in a positive or neutral tone, whether it is offshore, coastal or marine aquaculture. But there are different perceptions for the different sectors within aquaculture, especially in regards to marine aquaculture, finfish aquaculture, fish and human health and fish feed.

“One of the key takeaways from the survey is that in the future stakeholders communicating with the public should put efforts into what the information gaps are for different stakeholders, especially chefs, restaurateurs, and retailers,” said Cindy Sandoval, communications specialist at NOAA Fisheries.

--Lola Navarro


Wednesday, June 20, 1.03 pm CET

Mediterranean still lagging behind on sustainability issues

Fisheries in the Mediterranean region continue to be at critical levels in terms of sustainability, and not just environmental but also on an economical scale.

Lack of communication, a gap between the number of fishing stocks and the number of assessed fisheries, limited tools, and little understanding from consumers on the importance of sustainable sourcing make it difficult for the industry to thrive.

The WWF and MSC-backed project Medfish project, launched in 2016 to carry out an analysis of French and Spanish Mediterranean fisheries, offers a platform for all stakeholders to get involved in the sustainability discussion. But this still proves challenging from a regional point of view.

“It’s not as easy to get a fisherman to attend meetings and have a voice as it is to get an executive from an organization,” said Caroline Mangalo, coordinator Comité national des pêches maritimes et des élevages marins.

In addition, the gap in reporting between southern and northern Mediterranean fisheries makes for very little available and reliable data on stocks, adding to the problem of little transparency and clarity for both the industry and consumers.

--Lola Navarro


Wednesday, June 20, 12:49 pm CET

Regal Springs: Key mindset change needed for byproducts

The industry needs to stop calling by-products, byproducts, and start to think of them in terms of value-added products, according to Peter Hajipieris, global advisor for CSR at Regal Springs.

“Byproducts for me is actually value added, and I view it as a positive thing – it is a key mindset change the industry needs to have,” he said.

Regal Springs itself operates a “zero fish waste policy” and makes use of every part of the tilapia it produces.

"We maximize 100 percent of the fish we produce and in turn recover the higher production costs for our premium tilapia."

The company’s byproducts go into feed, while the skin goes into pharma and fashion products and the scales go into the health and beauty industry.

Hajipieris explains below:

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, June 20, 11:32 am CET

Is it all just grey slime?

Squeezing the value out of fisheries by-products inevitably involves creating new products for direct human consumption – but it also involves getting people to actually want to eat them.

“We need to tackle consumer perceptions to seafood by-products. We can talk about it all day, but if no one's going to eat it, what’s the point,” said Dave Little from the University of Stirling.

Usually it is the media who sets the agenda on with the way it is portrayed, “unless we set it for them”, he said.

So is it all just “grey slime” as the media will have you believe?

No, it is about educating consumers that using by-product is something we’ve always done and always eaten, said Little -- and surimi is a good example of this, so how can we build that trust?

Consumers are put off by the use of chemicals, additives and flavorings, as it implies “cheap food”, but they will happily eat fish which has been salted, dried or femented.

“Additionally is could be about not selling it to a new market but identifying markets where by-products are already accepted and understood.”

--Dominic Welling


Wednesday, June 20, 10:18 am CET

Communication, not audits, are key

When it comes to protecting worker conditions and eliminating human rights abuses in the seafood industry, less focus should be placed on audits and more should be placed on fostering communication, said Dominique Gautier, sustainability director at Seafresh.

"It starts with recruitment, first we make sure workers are clear about their work conditions and employment terms – but then employers must provide support to workers, and be available to answer any question without any perceived risk of retaliation."

Gautier said workers need to know they can speak freely to an independent body at anytime, which means they can trust the company, and its management more and more over time.

"If they know they are free to ask question, there will be less reliance on Issara and more communication internally," he said.

The issue also highlights the limitations of audits, he said, as a means of collecting views and concerns of workers.

"In most cases audits have been unable to pick up on issues that appear over time but which do show up when there is a culture of constant communication with an independent body.

"It raises the question of whether the intensity of audits can be reduced."

--Dominic Welling



Wednesday, June 20, 09:42 am CET

In numbers: is Thailand making real progress in human rights at sea?

A recent survey conducted across Thailand asked 300 vessel workers about their conditions at sea with mixed results, while some progress was identified, there’s much room for improvement throughout the supply chain.

  • 65 percent of workers have a passport or some form of identity document, up from 15 percent in 2015
  • Only 43 percent recall having signed a contract, and only 5 percent of the respondents have a copy of it
  • 36 percent of workers work between 11 and 14 hours a day
  • Only 35 percent of the workers said to have access to basic medicines at sea
  • 71 percent of the respondents said they don’t feel adequately informed about their rights

“Some of these results show a lack of freedom, if you don’t know your rights, you don’t really have a voice,” said Art Prapha, senior advisor at Oxfam America.

“This may be something to do with training, or even vessel policies, but there’s definitely some work to do here, the results show some fundamental gaps that need to be solved.”

-- Lola Navarro



Wednesday, June 20, 09:38 am CET

Empowering worker voices

Companies can help build socially responsible supply chains simply by listening to the voices of workers on the ground - a basic concept, know as "Worker Voice".

The idea is to capture the voices, experiences and needs of workers in a safe and voluntary way and to link them to a clear and safe mechanism to work with employers and companies to drive change and respond to those needs.

“Worker voice is so powerful and goes beyond audits because you can uncover the real voice and experience of workers,” said Jittrinee Kaeojinda, business and human rights team leader at the NGO Issara Institute in Thailand.

However, sometimes workers fear a risk of reprisals by speaking up, so the Issara Institute offers a safe space and gives them time to communicate the issues that matter to them.

Issara is based in Thailand and has recently opened an office in Myanmar. It is also focused on Indonesia and Cambodia.

The group helps to engage workers through multiple channels: in person at its facilities; in the communities; via a smart phone app; through social media; and a multi-lingual helpline.

According to Kaeojinda the NGO receives more than 2,000 messages or calls a month from workers ranging from questions about health issues, translation, to serious issues of forced labor, debt bondage and trafficking in persons.

--Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 6:45 pm CET

Seafood champions named

SeaWeb announced the winners of the 2018 Seafood Champion Awards, outstanding seafood sustainability leaders who exemplify the creativity and commitment of seafood leaders around the world.

The Seafood Champion Award for Leadership went to Guy Dean, vice president and chief sustainability officer of Albion Farms and Fisheries. Dean has been involved in the seafood industry for almost 30 years in roles ranging from farmer, harvester, and fisher to processor and distributor. Passionate about promoting the long-term viability of the seafood industry,

Guy represents the seafood industry on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Multi-stakeholder Committee and co-founded Sea Pact, a group seafood companies committed to improving the social, economic, and environmental performance of the global seafood supply chain.

Pelagic Data Systems (PDS) won the Seafood Champion Award for Innovation for the creation of a groundbreaking vessel tracking system that is completely solar-powered, affordable, and suitable for boats of all sizes.

Its ultra-light system is a solar powered, autonomous data collection device, approximately smartphone sized, that records vessel location and transmits over a secured cellular network.

Since 2014, PDS has launched programs in over 15 different countries.

In the Seafood Champion Awards Vision Category, Open Blue won for its decade-long effort to revolutionize the mariculture industry by moving it into the open ocean, far away from sensitive near shore ecosystems. Open Blue’s native cobia fish are cultivated 12 kilometers off the coast of Panama in proprietary

Patima Tungpuchayakul, founder of the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation, was chosen as the winner of the Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy.

Patima has emerged as a key actor in the effort to end slavery at sea in Southeast Asia.

-- IntraFish Media


Tuesday, June 19, 5:59 pm CET

Close, but not close enough

Full land-based farming using recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) is getting much closer but is not there yet, according to a panel of investors.

There are examples where partial RAS systems are work, said Aqua-Spark’s Mike Velings, but there hasn’t been any commercial proof of any full RAS systems working yet.

“When full RAS becomes commercially viable it will create a major shift in what aquaculture looks like, but we haven’t seen commercial proof yet,” he said.

As a result, Aqua-Spark is very careful to invest in land-based farming right now as it is “an area with which we don’t want to make mistakes”.

Nevertheless Velings is confident the technology will ultimately work. “It should work and will work, but we are cautious for now.

“It is not just about technology, but better co-ordination, knowledge, husbandry, location, all along the value chain.”

Trip O’Shea, vice president at Encourage Capital, said while there are now some people bullish on land-based farming and there is “a lot of buzz” around RAS there are still significant risks.

“Over the last three years we’ve come a lot closer,” he said. “There are several RAS projects at the moment, the fact the Atlantic Sapphire deal was four or five times oversubscribed says a lot.

“I think the real challenge with RAS though is only a few people in the world know how to build it and if you do it wrong you can really lose your shirt and you may not be able to recover.”

Land-based is known for requiring high capex investment for large scale production systems, and that comes with a lot of risk.

“But once you get the teams who can show they can do it, it will take off,” said O’Shea.

Building a fully closed system is really difficult, added Velings, and as of yet, nobody is able to do it. “They will claim they can, but no-one is making money yet,” he said. “But it will be a big part of the future, and it’s not far off”.

--Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 5:26 pm CET

Aqua-Spark invests in algae, eyes up seaweed

Investment fund Aqua-Spark is one of the most prolific investors in the aquaculture space and is willing to invest across the whole value chain if the business case is right.

Speaking on impact investing at the summit, Mike Velings founder and managing partner of the fund, said one of the most attractive sectors at the moment is in the feed space, and the company has very recently made an investment in algae.

“We see exciting opportunities across the chain, but the most exciting is when there is combination of opportunities such as with feed,” he said.

Seaweed is also “one of the most promising potential ingredients” for feed right now, said Velings. “It is the best place to make an investment when the time is right, it is compelling”.

Following the recent investment in algae, Aqua-Spark is now “really actively scouting across the globe for seaweed” which can be used not only for feed but many other “low value applications”.

--Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 4:10 pm CET

GOAL to address ‘disruptive’ shrimp price volatility

This year’s GOAL conference in Ecuador will tackle head on the current global price volatility within the shrimp industry which is proving “disruptive” to the sector and not good for anyone at the moment, according to the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s (GAA) Greg Brown.

Prices are slumping at the moment in a trend that is not good for the industry as whole, said Brown.

The sector is volatile in general with production dropping and surging with poor transparency; it has a fragmented and disorganized structure, while regions are self-competing instead of market building, said Brown.

As a result, the annual aquaculture conference will attempt to create a platform for the whole industry – both buyers and producers -- to get together and improve information exchange between the supply and demand sides, to build trust and "position for transformational growth".

--Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 3:10 pm CET

Redefining sustainability

--Lola Navarro


Tuesday, June 19, 3:17 pm CET

Filling in the gaps

There are many challenges and complaints when it comes to certification schemes, but some of the most common concern gaps and overlaps between the different standards.

“Sometimes there are gaps,” said the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s (GAA) Greg Brown. “For example, at the moment the spotlight is very much on the gaps concerning social issues on fishing vessels.”

But there are also gaps in certification schemes when it comes to social and environmental issues in fishery processing plants.

Likewise there are many overlaps with certification schemes – several groups are certifying aquaculture farms and processing plants, but few are benchmarked to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) and Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP).

In response the GAA recently launched the Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) which aims to not only eliminate these gaps and overlaps but also consolidate aquaculture and fishery standards under a common umbrella, said Brown.

“The GSA is all enveloping, multifaceted approach, and will cover a much broader sense of both wild caught fish and aquaculture, and see seafood as holistic whole.”

--Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 2:58 pm CET

Part of the solution

Feeding the world is a big job, but someone has to do it, and the aquaculture sector is willing to do its bit.

We hear it time and time again, but by 2020 there will be 9 billion mouths to feed on the planet (9.5 billion according to the latest slide), and the world needs to find more efficient ways to do this.

Enter aquaculture.

By 2030, according to the World Bank, two thirds of all seafood consumed will come from aquaculture.

But there are many “hurdles” still to overcome if farmed seafood wants to be part of the solution, according to Chris Ninnes, CEO of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

These include challenges with feed, specifically its current dependency on agriculture and pressure on wild stocks. Then there are concerns with antibiotic use, where less is more. Escapes are also considered a hurdle which needs to be overcome, as are ecological challenges such as algal blooms and disease outbreaks among many others.

“Nevertheless, efficient and less impactful food is needed to feed the world and we have serious choices to make if aquaculture is part of that solution”.

--Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 2:43 pm CET

Brits want sustainability, with ease

Versatility, convenience and environmental concerns are the main factors driving the British consumers to buy more seafood and pay higher prices for sustainable products, said Mercedes Fernandez, project officer at PrimeFish.

On the other hand, German consumers’ purchases are driven by health benefits, origin and branding, and Spanish consumers purchase based on the origin of the product, and the value for money.

In terms of species, when it comes to sustainability UK consumers are willing to pay more money for certified wild-caught species such as herring and cod, and not so much for certified salmon, while the Germans would pay a premium for certified sea bass, bream and pangasius.

In Spain, consumers are generally not willing to pay much more for certified products, except for those hit by controversy, such as pangasius. In this case, the Spanish consumer pays a 30 percent premium when it’s certified.

--Lola Navarro


Tuesday, June 19, 12:20 pm CET

The role of the giants

Spanish vertically-integrated seafood giant Nueva Pescanova, with sales of more than €1 billion a year has a few challenges to overcome to achieve sustainability at global, regional and local levels.

With fishing, farming and processing operations around the world in developed and developing countries, the company has a key role to play in leading the sustainability change.

Named, "The Pescanova Blue" strategy, it is split in five different areas:

- Environmental issues: Fishing, farming and processing while respecting ecosystems and the planet.

- Social issues: Investing in diversity, safety and personal and professional growth.

- Health benefits: Providing a nutritious, healthy, and tasty product.

- Community well-being: Providing opportunities for the prosperity of the areas where it operates.

- Compliance: Abide by regulations and ethical and legal requirements in the different areas where it is present and the markets it supplies.

It is a complex system that is impacted by a lack of data across different areas; a limited participation in fisheries improvement projects (FIPs); and little collaboration in the industry.

But it is also one in which the company is making progress through certifications, training programs and other initiatives and one in which it plans to lead the way.

“It is our number one responsibility to use sustainable resources throughout our operations,” said Nuno Cosme, corporate director of CSR at Nueva Pescanova.

-- Lola Navarro


Tuesday, June 19, 12:12 pm CET

Eroski: ‘we need more pressure from consumers’

Spanish retailer – or more accurately co-operative – Eroski is committed to sustainable sourcing when it comes to seafood, but would like to see its consumers more engaged with the concept.

"We are not feeling the pressure of our customers or clients,” said Gorka Azkona, commercial head of fresh fish at Eroski Group.

Customers know sustainability is a “good thing to have” and rely on Eroski to do the right thing, “but they are not really pushing us to have these products, so we need to make people aware how important it is.”

Therefore the company still finds it has to do campaigns to inform consumers about the need to have have a sustainable fishing policy.

“So they buy sustainable products, and therefore we can maintain our purchasing policy,” said Azkona.

In 2013, Eroski first engaged with MSC for certified cod and hake on its fresh fish counters , but customers showed “a mild response”.

“They liked it but it wasn't a key factor to decide their purchasing,” said Azkona. In 2015 Basque fishermen got certified for anchovy and then in 2016 for tuna.

“This gave us the opportunity to build a solid commercial strategy for sustainability,” said Azkona.

Now the company has certified tuna, cod, lobster, and anchovy on its fresh counters, as well as surimi, salted cod, canned tuna and frozen fish such as clams, pangasius, and hake.

“But we have to admit that until now we have taken advantage of what others have built before -- which is small as our range of products is much wider than the European standard.

“So what about our other main products like squid, octopus, hake, mussels, clams, horse mackerel… will we be able to move these fisheries into a sustainable management too?”

The biggest market for fish in Spain is the traditional fishmonger and 40 percent of market share is in the fresh business.

Eroski has around 1,651 stores in Spain and an annual turnover of around €5.5 billion.

-- Dominic Welling



Tuesday, June 19, 10:52 am CET

No need to reinvent the wheel

Global awareness of sustainability is increasing across all industries, and there is no such thing as not being able to communicate anymore, said Heiko Liedeker, manager of consultancy firm Leading Standards, which provides strategic advice on social, environmental and economic compliance, said at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit Tuesday.

The consultancy firm is an advisor to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), one of the most recognized standards in sustainability in line with the 15th objective in the Sustainable Development Goals – Life on Land, from which the seafood sector could learn a lot.

Shared responsibility along the supply chain with global market players, and interaction with demanding critics are key elements to succeed in the creation of brand credibility, he said.

“To talk with like-minded organizations is easy, but one doesn’t grow on comfort," he said. "Systems grow on controversy.

“Responsibility is linked to issues beyond our control, but one of the most important lessons that we have had to learn is that we need to figure out how to work on fine lines, work with different demands and expectations and to know where the compromise should be.”

-- Lola Navarro


Tuesday, June 19, 10:15 am CET

'The last mile is the hardest'

The Sustainable Seafood Markets Movement – which has been working to strengthen global market demand for sustainable seafood and working to reform sustainability practices in the seafood supply chain – is working and proof of this is plain to see, said Max Levine from California Environmental Associates (CEA).

“The Markets Movement is working – it’s messy and the last mile is the hardest -- but overall the market is responding to the demand for sustainable seafood,” he said.

There has been a notable surge in retail and buyer engagement, a rise in certification schemes, and a significant consumer interest and demand for sustainable seafood.

"It is a demand driven model, and the supply chain is responding," said Levine.

Ten years ago in 2008, just four of 25 main North American retailers were engaged in NGO partnerships to provide sustainable seafood. In 2018, this figure is 22 out of 25 – accounting for around 90 percent of all seafood sales in North America.

“It's about creating demand for sustainable seafood at the top of the chain, then empowering the supply chain to respond to that demand, and then facilitating reform so producers can meet that demand.”

The success of the movement can also been seen through the proliferation of pre-competitive platforms which have been set up to address sustainability in supply chains, as well as increased engagement with certification schemes, as companies know it makes business sense.

“The momentum necessary for change is building and lasting in the seafood sector,” said Levine. But there is also a high cost of engagement and a need to work with environmental, social and political concerns.

“We’ve come a long way but we still have further to go – I’m confident it is working but it is not a panacea. Without them and without you we cannot set out to do what we wanted to do in the first place.”

-- Dominic Welling


Tuesday, June 19, 9:47 am CET

Spain steps up action against marine litter

Sustainability is not only an environmental matter, it is also a social and economic issue.

Spain, a country with a fleet landing 311,674 metric tons of fish and shellfish, which employs 10,000 crew members and produces the equivalent of 10 million seafood meals a year, is advancing in all these areas with different programs.

Over the past five years, the Spanish government has strengthened its legislation against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, with a number of initiatives and operations that allow for better monitoring within and outside national waters.

It also stepped up in safety at sea for crew members and crew security, tuna management systems, and last, it is taking part in four initiatives to reduce marine litter, Javier Garat, secretary general Spanish Fishing Confederation (Cepesca), said today.

The Know to Protect project, and the EU-funded Intermares, which is backed by several governments and NGOs including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are only two of the projects tackling marine little focusing on different actors, waters and aspects of oceans protection.

-- Lola Navarro


Tuesday, June 19, 9:30 am CET

Sea Pact brings funding support to Sri Lanka tuna FIP

North American seafood industry alliance Sea Pact, announced industry funding for a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) to reduce the impact of Sri Lanka’s longline fisheries for yellowfin and bigeye tuna and swordfish on endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) non-target species.

“We are heeding the call for industry initiatives and support in collaborative efforts to address tuna sustainability needs”, said Rob Johnson, managing director for Sea Pact. “This is the first project to be proactively funded outside of our annual Request for Proposal (RFP) process."

Sea Pact is a collaboration of ten leading North American seafood companies working together to drive seafood industry sustainability progress globally.

They include Albion Farms & Fisheries in Vancouver, Fortune Fish & Gourmet in Chicago, Ipswich Shellfish Group in Boston, Santa Monica Seafood in Los Angeles, Seacore Seafood in Toronto, Seattle Fish Co. in Denver, J.J. McDonnell in Baltimore, Stavis Seafood in Boston, North Atlantic Inc. from Portland, Maine and Euclid Fish Company from Cleveland.

--IntraFish Media


Monday, June 18, 04:37 pm CET

Are FIPs just another 'green washing'?

Sustainability “is not an option for people in our Pacific Nations, it is a matter of survival,” said Maurice Brownjohn, commercial manager at the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

The eight member states of the PNA are large ocean nations with their combined EEZs taking up an area that is 40 percent larger than Europe. The area also accounts for 25 percent of the world’s tuna stocks, so it is key it is managed sustainably if it wants a future.

But Brownjohn had some particular views about how to do this -- specifically calling out and questioning the efficacy of FIPs and self-certifications, and whether those fisheries involved in FIPs could really be considered sustainable.

He said, as resource owners, the PNA had a number of concerns with FIPs. Firstly how most companies in FIPs seem to “shove responsibilities towards the RFMO and there is no sign of leading initiatives by industry players.”

Instead, he claimed tuna FIPS have “hardly produced any results in the last decade”, and “mostly things are getting worse."

He called them another “green washing” to buy time, satisfy the NGOs and maintain market shares.

“We fear overall, the trend will result in even worse eco-system status in five years.”

Brownjohn suggested to create “real sustainable fisheries” no FIPs should exist outside of a formal MSC assessment, while no self-certified claims can be used for the MSC chain of custody (CoC) certification in the fishery.

“Under Pacifical our CoC runs from the certificate at the factory through to consumer,” he said.

--Dominic Welling



Monday, June 18, 03:52 pm CET

Ecuador looks to own certification

Ecuador is unveiling its new government-backed certification scheme for tuna in the country, not as a rival to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), but because the country needs something more bespoke, said Ernesto Godelman, from CeDePesca.

The new Sustentabilidad Ecuatoriana Atunera certification scheme – known as SEA – has been designed to fit the Ecuadorian tuna industry and its products specifically, said Godelman.

“Fisheries certifications, like the MSC, when they relate to a highly migratory species such as tuna, are very good but do not create the differentiation that the Ecuadorian industry is looking for,” he said.

Ecuador wants to highlight best practices both on board and on land, from the fishing vessels throughout the value chain, starting from the factories.

However, similarly to IFFO, SEA will recognize the MSC and other GSSI approved certification schemes for the fisheries part of the certification process.

“Therefore, SEA does not aim to be in competition with the MSC or other GSSI approved schemes,” said Godelman.

--Dominic Welling


Monday, June 18, 02:42 pm CET

Manage, don't ban

Fish aggregating devices (FADs) are generally given a bad rap by NGOs within the tuna sector, but if managed properly can be used as a force for good, according to Tony Lazazzara, group fisheries sustainability and European fish procurement director at Thai Union.

“In the past the industry has been crucified by many NGOs about FADs, and although things have changed a little in recent years, there is still more to be done before they are considered a great tool for the industry.”

However, Lazazzara believes FADs are necessary to keep up the supply of tuna that the world’s consumers need and want. They just need to be managed properly.

For example, there should be a limit on how many FADs each vessel operating in the Ocean can deploy – depending on size etc.

But there have also been big strides forward already in terms of using non entangling FADs and also in terms of using biodegrabable materials to build them.

However much more needs to be done when it comes to using the data available from FADs, where there seems to be a “resistance to communicate,” said Lazazzara.

“We are not doing enough on this analysis of data which is available under a FAD -- it is really important to understand what is under a FAD.”

While this doesn’t need to be in real time, even after three or six months, this is data “that is extremely important to scientists to understand what happens below a FAD."

Lazazzara said a few of the larger fleets are beginning to participate with two or three large companies willing to share that data.

“In a few years there will be a better understanding of the impact of FADs in the ocean… by looking at data from under the FAD, such as how much bycatch is below, we can implement rules such as how much we can catch."

“There are a number of things we can do to improve how we are fishing, and this is where we go in future where FADs are better managed.”

--Dominic Welling



Monday, June 18, 02:05 pm CET

Partnership is the new leadership

There is no simple solution to achieving sustainability in the tuna industry, but rather it is an issue that requires a "global, structured approach", according to Luciano Pirovano, sustainability development director at Bolton Alimentari.

For this, partnerships are the way forward, he said. For this reason, in 2017 Bolton signed a partnership agreement with the WWF on procuring its tuna from sustainable sources.

The company is also committing to source, by 2024, 100 percent of its seafood from either MSC-certified fisheries, or from those in "robust fisheries improvement projects (FIPs)."

In terms of improving tuna stocks globally, Pirovano said concepts such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) -- which is currently the best available criteria -- and FIPs are key for companies such as Bolton.

"There is also a need to address all the different fishing methods," said Pirovano, as while purse seine fishing is the most important, there are many others out there.

In this vein, Bolton is committed to further diversifying its fishing methods by 2020. This will see 50 percent of its tuna caught by "more selective fishing methods" such as pole and line, free schools, and small purse seiners.

The other 50 percent will be sourced from purse seiners with a FAD management plan in place.

--Dominic Welling


Monday, June 18, 01:40 pm CET

Better, but still more to do

In general, tuna fisheries management globally is getting better and paying off, but there is still more to be done, warned Victor Restrepo, lead scientist at the ISSF.

There are 23 stocks of major commercial tuna species worldwide -- six albacore, four bigeye, four bluefin, five skipjack, and four yellowfin stocks.

Those still in need of better management include: Atlantic Ocean bigeye, Pacific bluefin, Indian Ocean yellowfin, and Eastern Pacific bigeye.

However, skipjack and most albacore stocks remain healthy, said Restrepo.

“It shows how if we control fishing, eventually biomass will catch up, it may take a few years, and it will take monitoring, but it works” he said.

This was borne out by the biggest change 2017 which took place in the WCPO bigeye tuna fisheries. “Here, the much more optimistic results were due to better management, but also due to data gathering, the assessments that are made, and the debates of scientific communities.”

Is management getting better? Yes in terms of number of stocks, but not in terms of total catch.

“More stocks are better managed today than they were seven years ago,” said Restrepo. “Management has improved for some of the smaller stocks such as in the Atlantic Ocean, but gotten worse for larger stocks like Indian Ocean yellowfin. Overall though we are doing a better job at managing stocks.”

--Dominic Welling


Monday, June 18, 01:00 pm CET

Bienvenidos a Barcelona

The sun is shining in Barcelona as those concerned with seafood sustainability descend on the Spanish city for the annual SeaWeb Seafood Summit taking place this week.

The seafood sustainability conference, taking place June 18-21 at Hotel Arts in Barcelona, will feature more than 100 speakers from all facets of the sustainable seafood movement for up to five days of learning, networking and problem solving.

Summit speakers and registered attendees include global representatives from the seafood industry, the conservation community, retail and foodservice, academia, government and the media.

The conference proper starts Tuesday, but today will feature a special pre-conference seminar on "The State of Global Tuna Sustainability."

The seminar aims to help participants develop a better understanding of the current performance of key tuna species, responsible tuna fishing and how to identify and implement effective sustainability solutions.

Click here to see the full conference program and click here to see IntraFish's coverage from last year's event in Seattle, United States.

--Dominic Welling