Voluntary disclosure of sustainability data by the private sector has proven to be a powerful tool. Public disclosure of corporate sustainability data informs consumers and allows investors to better understand the risks in their portfolios. It also incentivizes companies to benchmark themselves against one another and invest in improving corporate performance against sustainability goals. There have been broad approaches to voluntary disclosure, like the Global Reporting Initiative, and sector-specific initiatives, like the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) recently launched a parallel initiative to the Carbon Disclosure Project that will support retailers and other companies in disclosing details regarding sustainable seafood sourcing on an annual basis. The Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) invites businesses to submit their lists of source fisheries to SFP so that additional data can be incorporated – for example, the status of management and stocks in specific fisheries, gear types, environmental impacts – and further analysis performed. The results are then published as individual corporate profiles on both the SFP website and on company websites.
The profiles give customer and investor stakeholders insight into the performance of individual companies. They also provide an objective reporting platform for companies that want to demonstrate high levels of transparency.
Five companies participated in the 2015 ODP. UK retailers included: Asda (part of Walmart); Coop Food; and Morrisons. Aquaculture feed manufacturers included Biomar and Skretting. Company profiles can be viewed at http://www.sustainablefish.org/global-programs/ocean-disclosure-project.
Blake Lee-Harwood, from Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, says of the effort: “The companies that participated in the Ocean Disclosure Project have demonstrated real leadership in supporting sustainable seafood. When businesses are transparent about where they get their fish, it builds confidence across the whole industry.”
Huw Thomas, Fisheries and Aquaculture Manager at Morrisons in the UK, acknowledges the significance of the ODP to his business: “It is important that our customers know where our fish comes from and how it has been caught. We continue to work hard with our suppliers to ensure that all the fish we stock is responsibly sourced and to improve and certify all areas of our supply chain.”
Participation for companies in the Ocean Disclosure Project is free and open to all businesses that work with seafood. Participants need only to provide a list of source fisheries and a small amount of staff time to check the final draft profiles before publication. The project will expand in 2016 to include companies in both the United States and the European Union and will build over time to be a global platform.
Although the Ocean Disclosure Project is currently a program of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, the vision for the project is that it will evolve into an independent entity with a dedicated website.
For further information about the Ocean Disclosure Project, please contact Blake Lee-Harwood at [email protected].