If something is sustainable, it keeps producing and avoids scarcity and a raw material that is plentiful will keep costs down. To quote Dick Jones, Director of Ocean Outcomes, “Sustainability is not a movement, it is a critical element if you want to have a viable business. You need fish in order to run your business profitably, so ensuring that the fish in your supply chain is sustainable is a good business decision.”
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In 2006, Walmart pledged its aim to buy all of its seafood from MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified fisheries within 5 years. This commitment by one of the world’s largest seller of seafood, sparked investment in public-private partnerships (fisheries, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to provide MSC certified seafood. Today there are hundreds of partnerships building more sustainable fisheries globally.
As leading brands use their purchasing power to intact positive change, having a specific procurement policy or sustainability mandate is not without its challenges. Companies have sales and profit targets, and building sustainability into the supply chain is a long term investment with an upfront cost. By following best practices, a sustainable supply chain reduces risk for the brand and secures supply at more stable costs.
In the case of fisheries, the path towards sustainability can take years and requires:
1. Assessing the fishery against international best standards. Establishing a complete and accurate baseline understanding of a fishery is foundational in the sustainability process.
2. Engaging stakeholders to develop a plan for improvements. Effective and sustainable improvements in fisheries sustainability requires an investment of all stakeholders in a fishery’s supply chain.
3. Implementing fishery and management changes. Cost of reform are distributed across the supply chain depending on stakeholder agreements and can vary widely by fishery size and location.
4. Certification and/or other market recognition. Often the most visible part of the sustainable journey, the certification process cost is relatively low (< 1% of the total) and not always a requirement for sustainability.
Historically when fisheries collapse, our action was defensive, we let them recover with hope and time. Organizations like Ocean Outcomes are proactively building sustainable fisheries to ensure:
- Seafood remains a critical, cost-effective source of protein,
- Fishing retains its intrinsic role in our communities, and
- Consumers can enjoy seafood knowing it’s from sustainable sources