We’re on a roll: EJF’s Charter for Transparency gains momentum as M&S and Waitrose sign up
May 16, 2019

We’re on a roll: EJF’s Charter for Transparency gains momentum as M&S and Waitrose sign up

By EJF Staff

EJF’s Charter for Transparency is gaining real traction as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose & Partners become the latest major retailers to sign. They join the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in making a commitment to ensure their seafood supply chains are free from illegal fishing and human rights abuse. Together these five companies represent a significant majority of grocery sales in the UK and their actions will lead to meaningful change.

Supermarkets are a vital part of ensuring that the seafood we eat was caught legally, ethically and sustainably. And thanks to EJF’s supporters signing our letter urging retailers to take up the transparency cause, many big hitters have answered the call.

The lack of transparency in the global seafood industry means that illegal fishing is rife, costing the global economy an estimated US$10 - 23.5 billion every year and threatening food security in some of the world’s poorest nations.

As fish stocks fall, so does income from the vessels. To scrape a profit, some companies exploit workers, engaging in violent human rights abuses and employing forced, bonded and slave labour. EJF has documented shocking abuse aboard fishing vessels across the world – from slavery to murder – all facilitated by the lack of transparency.

The charter includes detailed recommendations retailers can use with suppliers to make sure no boat associated with illegal or unethical practices taints their supply chain.

Central to this is the use of traceability systems that allow fish to be tracked from net to plate, accompanied by necessary evidence showing it was caught legally and ethically. These should be backed up by third party audits, focused on those areas of the supply chain with the highest risks.

In addition, supermarkets have a powerful voice that they can use to call on governments to make critical reforms. The charter calls on them to support the adoption of EJF’s ten principles for global transparency in the fishing industry.

Having major retailers sign the Charter for Transparency is a vital opportunity for real change all along supply chains. It gives supermarkets the tools to develop effective risk mitigation policies and processes in place, backed by truly independent verification.

“We have been working on responsible seafood sourcing for over 20 years, only sourcing fish from fisheries and farmed aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed and fully traceable,” said Sam Ludlow Taylor, Waitrose & Partners’ Ethical Trade Manager. “Our leading approach to responsible fishing extends to the welfare conditions of all workers in our supply chain as their well-being is equally important to us. By signing this charter, further safeguarding measures will be implemented to ensure all workers are operating within a safe and ethical environment, as well as practising the high standards both we and our customers expect.”

Mike Mitchell, Fisheries Specialist at M&S, added: “At M&S, we’re committed to sourcing all our fish responsibly and we’re proud to lead the sector on transparency with our interactive supplier map, which shows where every type of fish or seafood we sell is caught or farmed. We believe collaborating with EJF and the wider industry to prevent illegal fishing will enable us to create meaningful and lasting change in seafood.”