At a time when three billion people rely on both wild-caught and farmed seafood as their primary source of protein, sustainable management of our marine resources is more critical than ever.
Decades of overfishing have led to the collapse of key commercial fisheries around the globe, reducing once plentiful stocks on which the ecosystem and millions of people depend. In supporting transformational change in global fisheries, Sysco is working toward conserving the health of the marine ecosystem and the livelihoods of future generations.
As one of the largest purchasers of seafood in North America, we are committed to working with our suppliers to improve sustainability in our seafood supply chain.
We began working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2009 to assess our seafood supply chain and in 2011 announced our goal of sourcing our top 10 Sysco Brand wild-caught seafood species by 2015 from fisheries that are either certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, in full assessment by the MSC or engaged in comprehensive fishery improvement projects (FIP).
In regard to the commitment above, as of the end of 2015, Sysco now sources approximately 90 percent of its top 10 wild-caught Portico Brand seafood species from fisheries that are either MSC-certified, in MSC full assessment or engaged in a comprehensive FIP. In fact, all of Sysco’s Portico Brand wild-caught frozen cod, pollock, North American (cold water) lobster, haddock, salmon, scallops, halibut and flounder coming from MSC-certified fisheries. Sysco purchased more than 24 million pounds of seafood from MSC-certified fisheries in 2015, an increase of more than 250 percent compared to 2011. Lastly, all of Sysco’s canned and pouched tuna suppliers became members of the International Seafood Sustainability Association (ISSA) and supporting the tuna sustainability efforts of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).
The remaining portion of the top 10 species that did not meet our commitment is sourced from a calamari and shrimp fishery. We believe it is most beneficial to continue working with these fisheries to improve their environmental performance and ultimately achieve MSC certification. Sysco and WWF have pledged to work together to continue to support constructive discussions with processors, fishermen, government agencies, non-government agencies, and MSC to reach this goal.
OUR 2020 COMMITMENT
In 2016, we reinforced our commitment to improve the sustainability of our seafood procurement practices and standards by continuing our alliance with WWF through 2020. Specifically, we pledged to increase our offerings of responsibly caught Sysco and Portico Brand seafood products to customers with the following goals.
- Aim to source our top 15 wild-caught Sysco Portico Brand seafood from fisheries that are either certified by the MSC, in MSC full assessment or in a comprehensive FIP – with at least 75 percent of this volume coming from MSC-certified fisheries;
- Aim to source our top five Sysco Portico Brand aquaculture species groups – shrimp, salmon, pangasius, tilapia, catfish – from farms that are either certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), in ASC full assessment, in aquaculture improvement projects leading to ASC certification, and/or certified against a minimum two star rating on the Best Aquaculture Practices standards as defined by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. In addition, Sysco will preferentially source ASC-certified product when available;
- Work with WWF to promote efforts to improve seafood traceability globally by participating in the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability as well as enhancing Sysco’s current capabilities to trace seafood products throughout its supply chain; and
- Build on its work to increase the supply of sustainable tuna, including sourcing Sysco Brand canned and pouched tuna from fisheries that are MSC-certified, in MSC full assessment, in a comprehensive FIP, or showing ISSA membership.
Sysco is helping improve the sustainability of fisheries that provide their highest volume wild-caught seafood. Efforts by Sysco and others to help fisheries and farms meet the standards of MSC and ASC are vital to the health of the oceans and the diverse life they support, including our own.
Sysco’s support has been crucial to advancing fishery improvement projects supported by World Wildlife Fund. Sysco has helped fund people in Ecuador, Peru and Nicaragua working on the ground with stakeholders to enable the fisheries to meet the MSC standard. Equally important has been Sysco’s engagement with suppliers and the local governments in these countries to encourage their involvement in these activities to bring about change on the water.
Sysco’s tuna sourcing commitment continues to help move a global industry toward sustainable fishing. As major buyers call for improvements and increased transparency, the market is responding with advancements in practices on the water along with more robust reporting on compliance with standards.
SEAFOOD TASK FORCE
In June 2016, Sysco joined the Seafood Task Force, a membership organization that includes retail, foodservice and NGO participation. The task force aims to strengthen worker well-being and compliance with laws governing the seafood supply chain through implementation of a track and trace system of international verification from vessel to feed mill; development of a standard code of conduct model for ports, brokers and vessels; and support for fishery improvement projects to mitigate the effects of overfishing, which can contribute to human rights abuses in the shrimp supply chain.
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Sysco remains committed to healthy tuna stocks by committing to source Sysco brand canned and pouched tuna from MSC certified fisheries, comprehensive tuna fishery improvement projects, and/or from International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) participating companies. In addition Sysco has committed to reviewing annual ISSF compliance reports from all of its participating companies to confirm progress indicators such as ensuring all tuna is only sourced from vessels on the ISSF pro-active vessel register.
Our work with WWF includes the support of three FIPs in Central and South America to protect strategically important fisheries: the mahi mahi fisheries in Ecuador and Peru and the spiny lobster fishery in Nicaragua. These FIPs incentivize positive change within our existing supply chain while ensuring the long-term health and viability of the fisheries for future generations.