The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) is a group of businesses that collaborate to tackle pressing sustainability challenges facing seafood supply chains in the UK. Our members represent all sectors of the seafood industry, from the largest retailers to individual fish and chip shops. We’re committed to using the power of the market to incentivise the development of sustainable fisheries and farms. United by the belief that better buying decisions make for a healthier ocean, we’re working together to raise standards across the industry and make responsible sourcing the norm.
The SSC was founded in 2011, after a ClientEarth report on supermarket labelling practices found that environmental claims on seafood were often inconsistent or misleading. Facing challenges too great to be tackled by individual businesses, industry leaders decided to work collaboratively, and founded the Sustainable Seafood Coalition with ClientEarth as secretariat. The SSC Codes of Conduct were published in 2014, and the organisation now has 33 members, including eight of the ten largest supermarkets in the UK.
How We Work:
The SSC works on the basis of pre-competitive collaboration. Our members are often commercial competitors but have agreed some challenges require a coordinated approach. By sharing best practice, aligning our sourcing standards and labelling practices, and collaborating on specific challenges we can realise our vision for all seafood sold in the UK to come from sustainable sources.
Our Codes of Conduct:
All SSC members publicly commit to upholding our two Codes of Conduct, a voluntary set of principles written collectively by industry stakeholders, representative organisations and NGOs. The Codes are a roadmap for businesses to structure their responsible sourcing and labelling strategies.
A primary goal of the SSC is to ensure that consumers are confident the seafood they buy meets or exceeds minimum standards of responsibility. In the Voluntary Code of Conduct on Environmentally Responsible Fish and Seafood Sourcing, members commit to having:
Good traceability, with sufficient measures in place to trace fish to origin;
A risk assessment or audit which must be conducted and regularly reviewed;
Sourcing decisions, based on the outcome of the risk assessment or audit;
Appropriate responses, such as engaging with and/or monitoring improvements; and
Transparency, including a commitment to ongoing openness and communication.
The SSC also aims to create harmonised environmental labelling on seafood that will provide consumers with accurate information on the provenance and sustainability of the product. Recognising that a confusing variety of environmental claims don’t help the consumer, the industry or the health of the ocean, our members have set out labelling practices which are clear, consistent, and accurate. In the Voluntary Code of Conduct on Environmental Claims, SSC members commit to:
Making only two types of environmental claim on seafood: ‘sustainability’ and ‘responsibility’;
Ensuring any images will reflect the claims or processes they are intended to depict;
Providing sufficient assurance on request to support any claim; and
Providing sufficient explanation of the claim where possible.
SSC members meet twice a year, offering members the opportunity to discuss how each business can align itself with our codes. Meetings are held under Chatham House Rules, meaning that non-competitive information can be shared freely between members and will not be attributed to individuals. This, combined with eight years of building trust through mutual cooperation under the SSC umbrella, means that attendees can be open and honest about sustainability successes, challenges and proposed strategies for overcoming them.
Many businesses attend meetings for the value in influencing, informing and progressing the debate and actions of a significant proportion of the industry. Others primarily enjoy the opportunity to engage with and learn from experienced experts. Importantly, all members, regardless of the size of their business, have an equal place and voice at our meetings. In the interests of transparency, all meeting minutes are published online.
Membership of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition is open to all businesses that sell seafood in the UK. For more information, visit www.sustainableseafoodcoalition.org or email Oliver Tanqueray.