The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) released its second Seafood Stewardship Index at Tokyo’s Sustainable Seafood Summit.
Thai Union retained its number one ranking, demonstrating leading practice on traceability and social responsibility topics. This year, the salmon giant Mowi leads the way on ecosystem impacts, with 100% of its salmon products being certified sustainable and providing comprehensive reporting on key aquaculture issues such as responsible feed production and animal welfare.
WBA’s research revealed that seafood companies are not doing enough on human rights due diligence in the industry, despite making some progress on tackling environmental issues. WBA’s data suggests that even for those seafood companies who do have commitments to protecting human and labor rights, these are not translating into action. The majority (97%) of benchmarked companies lack a due diligence process – the most basic action that can be taken to start protecting their people. Only Thai Union Group, the number one company in the ranking, has demonstrated that it has such a process in place to identify, assess and act on human rights risks and impacts in both its own operations and supply chain.
When it comes to environmental impact of fisheries and aquaculture, the Seafood Stewardship Index suggests that most companies are taking action, by trading products from sources that are certified or engaged in improvement projects. However, how much progress has been made is unclear due to imprecise reporting. For example, several companies do not disclose how much product is certified versus improving towards certification, which means different levels of sustainability.
Detailed disclosure of companies' activities across their entire portfolio is the only way to identify where improvements are most needed. If not, there is a risk they only focus on the low-hanging fruit and leave behind the most challenging parts of the sector.
Since 2019, together with other companies, Japanese companies have strengthened their commitment to traceability, the backbone to any sustainability and legality claims of seafood products. Three Japanese companies – Kyokuyo, Maruha Nichiro, Nissui – are members of the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship initiative which has pledged to work towards the adoption of the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability standards. The overall industry picture suggests more ambition is still required. Targets, while present, often lack a time frame and a little over a quarter of companies (26%) are yet to commit to traceability.
“As an industry so dependent on healthy ecosystems, it makes sense that companies are investing in sustainability strategies,” said Helen Packer, lead Seafood Stewardship Index at WBA. “We need clear reporting of progress and companies must be transparent about the complexity of the issues at hand. Only then can we have productive conversations about how to ensure a sustainable future for the industry.
The full findings and data of the Seafood Stewardship Index are available here.