In 2006, Young's Seafood took action to address that disturbing trend by introducing its own sustainability programme, Fish For Life, underpinned by its Ten Principles for Responsible Fish Procurement. It was the first such systematic approach to responsible sourcing by a seafood processing company.
Since then, Young's has been acquired by Findus Group and the Fish For Life programme has been adopted by the new parent and rolled out across Europe. For both Young's and Findus, it has been recognised as an opportunity to push forward the sustainability agenda throughout the seafood industry, and ensure that the oceans have a healthy future.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is no statutory requirement for companies processing seafood to ensure that it has come from a sustainable source. Fish for Life is Young's - and now Findus's - response to that need. Before sourcing from any fishery, it is subjected to a FFL healthcheck mechanism, which considers whether the fishing ground has MSC certification, the best scientific evidence on its stock levels, the legality and management of the fishery and other issues of by-catch and environment. It works closely with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, which provides up-to-date scientific data on fish species and fisheries.
The company prefers to work with fisheries classified as low risk, but in some cases works with others where there is an opportunity to bring improvement.
The healthcheck is also used to assess Findus's supply chain - including individual fishermen - and ensure that raw materials meet the company's own standards.
As well as ensuring that its own products are responsibly sourced, Findus has helped to educate both consumers and retailers about the issues of sustainability, and to drive better practice throughout the supply chain. And it has achieved some specific results, for example helping Stornoway's langoustine fishery to achieve MSC status in 2009.
Findus also takes an active part in a variety of industry bodies and discussions aimed at building sustainability in the wider fishing industry - both in Britain and in Europe. It is involved in plans to create an Aquaculture Stewardship Council for farmed fish. And it has set itself an ambitious target: that all its captured fish supplies should come from MSC-certified fisheries by 2012, resulting in an estimated 50 million additional Young's/Findus retail packs carrying the MSC logo. There is hope for the world's oceans yet.
Sponsored by RPS
WEB LINKS: Young's Seafood www.youngsseafood.org.uk
Other links: www.sustainablefish.org; www.msc.org