Case Study: New England Seafood

Awareness over the decline in ocean stocks from overfishing has been at a high level for some time and has led to an increasing demand for responsibly sourced seafood.

Sustainable sourcing practices are therefore well established in the seafood sector and FDF member company New England Seafood has been an actively working towards making their own supply chain more sustainable.

New England Seafood found that developing a more sustainable supply chain was a natural progression from the company's own values based on respect and fairness. A key initiative was the development and implementation of responsible sourcing guidelines in 2007, followed by a trading charter in 2010. These initiatives are designed to help fish suppliers across the globe deliver a more sustainable product and thereby meet the company's and in turn consumers' expectations.

Lucy Blow, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at New England Seafood International Ltd., says that “the key to a sustainable fishing industry is a 'multi-stakeholder approach', as in such an inevitably interconnected environment joint actions will have greater impact”.

The setting up of Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP) along with collaborative alliances of buyers, suppliers, and producers, have been helpful in establishing a way forward on many of the key challenges. New England Seafood is particularly active in the Sri Lanka FIP, alongside other UK importers, which aims at fishery improvements in Sri Lanka's fishery with the ultimate goal of MSC certification for Yellowfin tuna.

“We can achieve more if we work with other interested stakeholders so, having already worked with suppliers in the Indian Ocean for many years and also with other UK fish buyers, the development of a Fishery Improvement Partnership was a natural next step for us to take,” said Lucy.

Lucy also points to the role that NGOs have played in both public and sector awareness. “I take my hat off to the Greenpeace league table of 2005”, says Lucy, referring to the report 'A recipe for disaster', challenging supermarkets to know more about the provenance of their fish and sell sustainably-sourced fish. “It was a tipping point, it catalysed action” says Lucy. Now those same NGOs who challenged retailers have been able to work together with fishermen, buyers, processors and retailers to try to secure a future for fish.

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Last reviewed: 28 Jan 2014