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Sustainable Seafood Initiative

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The Fresh Market and New England Aquarium Partnership

The Fresh Market is pleased to announce that we partnered with the New England Aquarium to develop an Environmentally Sustainable Seafood policy that will shape all future product sourcing decisions and inspire us to continuously improve the environmental responsibility of the items we sell in our seafood department.  This commitment recognizes the increasing importance of sustainability in being able to provide our customers with the highest quality seafood they expect from us for many years to come.

 

Our Environmentally Sustainable Seafood Policy

The Fresh Market has chosen to base its policy around the Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood as established by the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a cooperative effort begun in 2008 by sixteen leading conservation organizations devoted to maintaining and improving the health of the world’s oceans and seafood supply.

With invaluable research and consultation from Conservation Alliance founding member, the New England Aquarium, we have worked to understand the important environmental considerations for both the fisheries that harvest wild products from the world’s oceans and for the aquaculture industry required to meet the global demand for seafood.  During this process, we first examined our current seafood supply and then prioritized our own opportunities for immediate, medium and long-term improvement.  As a result of this research, our commitment to environmentally sustainable seafood consists of the principles that follow.

Identification of Environmentally Sustainable Seafood

The health of wild fisheries and the practices of the aquaculture industry are constantly in flux, and the resulting environmental impacts can be either increasing or decreasing.  We realize we must regularly evaluate the products we purchase and any potential substitutes for these products in order to make the most responsible purchasing decisions.  Our actions will include the following:

  • On existing items, annually review our product portfolio for key changes in farm and fishery regulatory policies and management practices.
  • On new items, conduct a full assessment of the environmental responsibility of each product prior to purchase and sale.
  • Require suppliers to provide relevant information on all products prior to purchase including: common and scientific names, country of origin, specific catch area or farm, fishing gear or production method used, and source producer.

Sourcing of Environmentally Sustainable Seafood

Although by no means the only way to affect change, the most immediate action we can take in supporting sustainable practices is to choose to purchase seafood that is harvested or produced according to acceptable sustainability practices.  Following our initial product assessment, we have instituted numerous product sourcing and selection changes.  Going forward we will continue to make such changes as quickly as is practical in order to stay consistent with our sustainability commitment.  To this end, we will look to replace or reject seafood items that infringe on the key guidelines that follow. 

The Fresh Market is working to ensure that its wild-caught seafood:

  • Originates from fisheries that are regularly monitored and assessed
  • Comes from fisheries that have a management framework in place that is based on the best available information
  • Is sourced from fisheries with minimal impacts on other species and the physical environment and/or is engaged in reducing these impacts
  • Is not knowingly purchased from fishers engaging in Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing

The Fresh Market is working to ensure that its farmed seafood is sourced from suppliers that:

  • Recognize and address environmental risks associated with farming
  • Responsibly address marine resource use in feed
  • Strive for zero escapes
  • Focus on maintaining health of farmed stocks as opposed to treating disease
  • Strive for zero antibiotic use 

The Role of Certifications in The Fresh Market Policy

The Fresh Market will source certified products, where available, for the purposes of verifying the level of environmental performance and ensuring traceability of seafood products. At this time, when sourcing certified products, we will preferentially source from the following certification programs: 

Wild-caught seafood:

1)     Marine Stewardship Council [1]

Farmed seafood:

1)     Aquaculture Stewardship Council1

2)     Global Aquaculture Alliance

A new multi-stakeholder effort, called the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative, is currently in development.  GSSI will help benchmark different certifications in the marketplace and help us further determine credible certifications from which to source our seafood.

Transparency on our Sourcing Decisions and Progress

As we address the various challenges in order to fulfill our commitment, we will continue to share our progress and describe new opportunities.  Transparency in our actions will ensure that we make continuous improvement in our own commitments, but will also help to encourage improvements across the industry over time. Our plan to provide visibility into our sourcing decisions and progress includes the elements below:

  • Our Environmentally Sustainable Seafood Policy will be available on our website and in stores
  • An annual progress report will be released that details improvements during the past year
  • Relevant product information (if not proprietary) will be available on our website and in store

Sharing Knowledge with our Suppliers, Employees, and Customers

We recognize that educating our employees about sustainability and our efforts is important to informing the decisions of our customers both in and out of our stores.  Additionally, we expect to share knowledge and learn along with our suppliers in order to evolve our sourcing decisions over time.  To meet these goals we make the following commitments:

  • Educate store associates on environmentally sustainable seafood and our commitments
  • Prepare associates to help guide customer questions and purchasing decisions
  • Incorporate sustainability concerns into all supplier discussions

Support of Industry Policy and Management Reform

We realize that making an impact in the area of Seafood Sustainability requires action and influence outside of our own purchasing decisions.  We pledge to support fishery and farming industry improvements where possible and to share such efforts with our customers, employees, and suppliers. Support of reform efforts could include the following:

  • Advocating for fisheries and aquaculture management to be environmentally responsible
  • Position statements on specific industry issues in the current news that are relevant to our products and purchasing practices
  • Working with suppliers to improve  traceability and fishery and aquaculture management practices

New England Aquarium: http://www.neaq.org
Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions: http://www.solutionsforseafood.org


[1] Preferred certification program