Sea change – how we are working with retailers to protect the ocean

Sea change – how we are working with retailers to protect the ocean

March 6, 2018

TFT’s Fabien Girard on our work supporting retailers to protect the ocean

Given oceans cover nearly three quarters of the planet there’s a case for it be called searather than Earth. It’s something we are now working to protect. To many, we’re best known for our work protecting forests, yet everything we do draws on 19 years of experience finding out where the stuff companies use in their products comes from. And whether its production is causing any harm.

Working with retailers

Having worked with French retailers for a number of years on palm oil and charcoal it seemed like a logical progression to broaden that work to the ocean, too. Right now we are working with three retailers to find out the original source of the fish in their products.

TFT’s Fabien Girard explains more in the video below.

Risk to oldest species on Earth

Fishing oceans for food is a risk to some of the oldest species on Earth, with rare and unique ecosystems destroyed as we go deeper and deeper in the ocean to trawl for fish. So much marine life remains unknown, with the vast majority of the ocean still unmapped, but there will be virtually no fish left in it by the middle of the century if current fishing trends continue – this according to a major scientific study.

Our project began when we heard about an NGO campaign on sea depletion and destructive fishing methods around three years ago. One thing that really shocked us was 25 to 30% of the total wild catch caught from the sea being used as animal feed, mainly for fish farming. The majority of these fish are perfectly fine for people to eat. Slave labour and human rights abuse are also, unfortunately, too common in this sector – and sadly something we are too familiar with through our work with other commodities.

Finding collaborative solutions

With 10 species of fish representing around 75% of the total volume of sea-based products in our shops it’s clear we need to engage deeper into the understanding of supply chains for species like tuna, salmon and shrimps. One of the main issues is a lack of transparency in the fish supplies, combined with the shortage of commitment to bring change from some key players in that market. Having done some research, we started operational work two years ago with retailers, with a focus on some of the fish species they sell and their supply chains.

While we are better known for our work out in the field right now we see ourselves as the facilitator between market and field initiatives when it comes to this project. Our approach is about finding collaborative solutions that can be applied now. We are convinced that raising awareness of the need for more transparency, along with the issues and solutions to better protect the ocean among the market, buyers and customer is one of the ways to transform supply chains for the better. There is an urgent need to stop exploitation of the ocean – practices need to improve.

We are very happy to share more details of our strategy on protecting the ocean. Those interested in doing so are welcome to get in touch with me at our French office in Lille on f.girard @tft-earth.org