ASDA DISCLOSES FISHING VESSELS SUPPLYING ITS STORES
Asda discloses fishing vessels supplying its stores. UK supermarket Asda has published data identifying the fishing vessels that supply stores with cod, haddock and plaice. The data is being shared as part of the company’s annual update of its Ocean Disclosure Project profile, which describes all own-brand, wild caught seafood retailed by the business along with data relating to management, fishing techniques and environmental impact.
The publication marks the first time that a UK retailer has systematically begun to identify and publicly disclose information on specific fishing vessels and marks a significant step forward in seafood transparency.
The new disclosure released by Asda marks the start of a process where the business will eventually publish vessel data for all own-brand, seafood products where it is practicable and the information is not commercially confidential. The published data identifies vessel names, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) numbers and country of origin. IMO numbers serve as a unique vessel identifier that can be traced back to a vessel even when the vessel changes name, flag, or ownership. The IMO numbering scheme is internationally recognized, and its use is promoted to improve vessel monitoring and transparency. All fishing vessels greater than 100 gross tons and vessels of 12 meters or more in length that fish outside of their national jurisdiction are eligible for an IMO number.
Chris Brown, Sustainability Director for Asda, said: “Asda has a commitment to transparency in supply chains and seafood is an area where our customers want to know exactly where we find their fish. By providing details around vessels for some species we can begin to take our approach to the next level and provide leadership in the retail sector. Transparency is the foundation for our relationship of trust with shoppers and we will continue to keep pushing back the barriers to disclosing information about the products we sell.”
Tania Woodcock, Project Manager for the Ocean Disclosure Project, said: “We are delighted that Asda has again shown leadership in seafood transparency and become the first retailer to begin to systematically publish details of the specific vessels that supply their stores. This is an important first step towards a fully transparent seafood supply chain and we hope other companies will follow suit. The Ocean Disclosure Project is the leading global platform for disclosing information about wild seafood sourcing and will continue to expand the scope of data provided by companies for public scrutiny.”
Peter Horn, Project Director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ ending illegal fishing project, said: “International Maritime Organization numbers are an essential tool in the fight against illegal fishing, because they enable and improve monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing. The ability to track and uniquely identify the vessels at the start of the seafood supply chain is vital to assure buyers that seafood is sourced from legal fishing operations. We hope that other industry organizations follow suit in this important step in tackling illegal fishing and improving transparency.”
The ODP was started by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership in 2015 to provide a valuable information resource for responsible investors, seafood consumers, and others interested in sustainable seafood. To date, 20 companies, including retailers, suppliers, and aquaculture feed manufacturers from Europe and North America, have participated.
Asda was the first company to disclose its seafood sourcing via the ODP in 2015 and has published an annual disclosure every year since then. Other ODP participants include UK retailers Co-op Food, Lidl UK, Morrisons, and Tesco, and North American retailers Publix Supermarkets, Walmart US, Giant Eagle, Meijer, and Walmart Canada.