Watchdog gives seafood brands low score on criteria pertaining to farmed salmon

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How committed are major seafood brands to sustainable and socially responsible seafood? That is the question a Canadian watchdog hopes to answer through a regular audit of major seafood brands sold locally.

At its latest investigation of the top 13 brands that dominate the Canadian marketplace, Vancouver-based SeaChoice gave the brands an overall grade of 46 percent on the KPI (key performance indicator) pertaining to farmed Atlantic salmon.

The score of 46 percent, out of 100, shows these brands need to do more in helping improve farmed Atlantic salmon given the “significant sustainability concerns with this species,” says SeaChoice Supply Chain Analyst Dana Cleaveley.

The brands would have attained a perfect score of 100 if they met the five criteria which includes only selling farmed salmon raised in closed containment facility, certified by ASC; recommended by Ocean Wise and/or rated Best Choice by Seafood Watch; or for taking action on all of the remaining criteria (see box).

Among the 13 brands were Aqua Star, DOM, High Liner, Olivia, Rio Mare, Toppits, True North Seafood, Ocean Brands, Clearwater, Clover Leaf, Ocean Brands, Clearwater

The evaluation is part of SeaChoice’s “Seafood Progress” initiative, a tool which the organization hopes will increase supply chain transparency and drive improvements upstream to fisheries and aquaculture practices in Canada.

It says this enables Canadian shoppers to judge whether the companies that supply their everyday seafood items – from canned tuna to frozen fish sticks – are actually walking the walk or are just talking the talk when it comes to sustainable seafood.

The brands voluntarily submitted information to the Seafood Progress program, except True North, which is owned by Cooke Aquaculture.

An “inspiring outcome” of the exercise was that the brands that were evaluated reported that nearly half of the seafood sold in the past year was “in line with their sustainability commitments,” says Cleaveley.