Sobeys Inc. National Sustainable Seafood Policy
Sobeys Inc. National Sustainable Seafood Policy
Seafood is an important component in Sobeys' customer offering and is a key differentiator in our food-focused strategy. Sobeys is committed to leveraging our scale and values by being a leading advocate for change to help ensure that:
- Seafood supplies are available to feed the needs of our customers today and for generations to come;
- We enable our customers to make informed choices about the relative sustainability of the seafood they purchase from us.
Sobeys understands that protecting the long term health of ocean ecosystems is important to ensuring the viability of the species we source and to enabling the continuing economic activity of the communities dependent on seafood.
By 2013, we will not sell any seafood species (in our seafood and grocery departments) that have major sustainability issues associated with them, where science-based consensus has defined the extent of the issues, unless the sources we procure from have science-based development plans and timetables for improvement. We will monitor development plans over time for demonstration of improvements, and will consider appropriate action if suitable progress is not made. As sustainability also includes social elements, we will consider in our decision-making the impact on the economy of Canadian-based local producer communities and their local retail markets we serve.
Our Seafood Sustainability Philosophy
As the intermediary between our customers and suppliers, we will engage both in a journey of continuous improvement toward greater seafood sustainability. We will do this by requiring the adoption of more sustainable practices in our supply chain and through providing more sustainable product choices and information to enable our customers to make the informed decisions they seek.
Our first priority is to seek improvements in the management practices in fisheries and aquaculture facilities where the most critical issues are widely acknowledged to be found. Ideally we will do this through collaboration and engagement with our supply chain and relevant experts, helping to provide the guidance, support, and time to create improvement plans and to implement them. However, where the issues are so challenging that fisheries are severely depleted, and/or face unanswered questions about their ability to manage more sustainably, or fail to demonstrate reasonable improvement in realistic timeframes, we will stop sourcing from those fisheries.
Alignment with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
We will seek to align with the spirit and intent of the UN's Food and
Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible
Fisheries, as summarized in the following introductory paragraph from
the FAO document:
"Fisheries, including aquaculture, provide a vital source of food, employment, recreation, trade and economic well being for people throughout the world, both for present and future generations and should therefore be conducted in a responsible manner. This Code sets out principles and international standards of behaviour for responsible practices with a view to ensuring the effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources, with due respect for the ecosystem and biodiversity. The Code recognizes the nutritional, economic, social, environmental and cultural importance of fisheries, and the interests of all those concerned with the fishery sector. The Code takes into account the biological characteristics of the resources and their environment and the interests of consumers and other users. States and all those involved in fisheries are encouraged to apply the Code and give effect to it."
Sobeys Sustainable Seafood Principles
- We partner with experts to gain objective, science-based, assessments of the status of seafood we procure (target stocks, governance, and environmental impacts). We will continue to capture data to monitor the sustainability characteristics of the seafood we source.
- We take all reasonable precautions to ensure that we do not purchase seafood that is illegally caught (IUU = Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported) or farmed.
- We only deal with suppliers who are committed to being informed about, and accountable for, seafood sustainability and transparency, legality, and ongoing sustainability improvement, and who conform to the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
- While we encourage certified eco-labels, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for wild and the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) for farmed, and others that may emerge, such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC),and that comply with UN FAO and ISEAL guidelines for certification standards, our commitment is to go beyond eco-labels. We seek to "start at the bottom" by improving the status of the most problematic seafood we source. Our priority is to gain commitments from the producers to time-bound plans to remedy their key issues, and we will continue to support and engage with producers who are committed to improvement projects. Where biomass and/or other issues are so pressing, according to the best available scientific consensus, that de-listing is the only viable action, we will take such action.
- Where feasible, we will implement traceability programs, focused especially on seafood sources where improvement plans are in place, so we may verify that we only procure specific species from those sources that meet our tightened requirements.
- We endorse the Global Social Compliance Program for fair labour practices, and seek to procure seafood from producers that honour that reference code or complementary initiatives such as the Ethical Trading Initiative and SA8000.
- Sobeys relies on science-based, peer reviewed data and
recommendations from Sustainable Fisheries Partnerships and other
experts to guide its decision-making. The following factors are among
those evaluated for each source:
- Status of fish stock in the UN FAO internationally defined fishing area and its IUCN rating, and other peer reviewed resources – key issue: overfishing and depleted stocks
- By-catch – key issue: excessive capture of non-targeted species
- Fishing gear type – key issue: may impact amount of by-catch and/or impacts on sea floor
- Impact on sea floor – key issue: may impact plants and animal species
- Legality (i.e. not Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported, "IUU") – key issue: fisheries that exceed total allowable catch quotas or do not conform to other fishery management systems
- Fishery management practices – key issue: reacting effectively to changes in context/status; committing to participation in credible improvement plans
- Location of the farm – key issue: located in sensitive areas
- Fish feed – key issue: over-reliance on unsustainable fisheries for feed, and high ratio of wild seafood feed to finished farmed product
- Impacts on seafloor bottom – key issue: excessive localized waste/pollution from the facility
- Impacts on nearby sea ecosystem – key issue: impacts on habitats and other species, including plants
- Disease or parasite transfer – key issue: transfer from farmed to wild species
- Escapes – key issue: excessive escapes of non-indigenous species
- If land-based, addressing key issues: carbon footprint, water consumption, and waste management
- Chemical/antibiotic use – key issue: excessive use and resulting impact on ecoystems
- We will provide our customers with the information they require regarding the sustainability characteristics of the seafood they purchase so that they may make informed decisions.
- Information may be provided on our website, in our stores, on our packages, and/or through other appropriate channels.
- Information will include product source, where and how it was caught or farmed, and compliance with Canadian country of origin labeling regulations.
- We will promote seafood products that are considered better sustainability options.
- We will educate our employees about seafood sustainability.
- We will engage and align with our seafood suppliers on the importance of sustainability and this policy and its implementation.
Collaborative Engagement for Improvement
- Given that the issues facing the sustainability of seafood are systemic and not unique to Sobeys, we will participate in industry collaboration initiatives aimed at improving the sustainability of seafood.
- We will continue to engage with producers, distributors, governments, academics, and NGOs to seek the continued improvement of seafood sustainability.
- We acknowledge that sustainability is a journey, and we will update this policy as and when new insights and contexts warrant.
September 29, 2010