Our principles for sustainable fish

Sea Tales is a brand with a clear mission: to spread the joy of delicious and sustainable seafood, now and forever. This is only possible if we take good care of our oceans and fishers. The fish we sell is always in line with our sustainability principles. This blog will elaborate on our guides for healthy oceans, fish stocks, and environmental sustainability.

Good for our oceans

Our principles for environmental sustainability consist of several vital elements. We only sell fish from healthy fish stocks and consistently avoid overfished stocks since this keeps fish populations healthy and allows us to enjoy delicious fish in the future.

We take care of the fishing method, in other words, the way the fish is caught. We always choose the method with the least environmental impact, such as the lowest bycatch and the smallest destruction of the seabed. Given the serious impact of beam trawling on the seabed, we do not sell fish species caught using this method.

In addition, it is essential that fisheries comply with sustainable management agreements. Further, laws and regulations must be based on scientific evidence and properly monitored compliance. Fisheries management is essential to ensuring that a fishery remains sustainable today and in the future.

How do we monitor?

We have developed a fisheries assessment program to assess the fisheries we work with internally. All the fisheries we work with meet our minimum requirements for, among other things, traceability and environmental and socio-economic sustainability. But for some fisheries, there is room for further progress and opportunities to increase our positive impact. We make this transparent by assessing them with our fisheries rating system.

Our program is not sufficient to assess all fisheries for environmental sustainability. Even though we have in-house marine ecologists, assessing fisheries requires a comprehensive and very high standard for independent assessment. That’s why we don’t do it ourselves but follow the MSC certification. MSC stands for Marine Stewardship Council and is the organization behind the seal of approval for certified sustainable fish, recognizable by the blue logo on our packaging.

We have chosen to do this because the MSC has set a clear standard which a fishery must meet in order to be certified as sustainable. The MSC label is the most comprehensive and globally recognized label for sustainable fishing. Therefore, the basis for our products is that they must always be MSC certified.

Is the MSC label sufficient?

Although all our products are MSC certified, does not mean that we will include all MSC certified products in our assortment. There are several additional sustainability requirements that Sea Tales applies that are not included in the MSC label.

Take the tuna fishing method, for example. Several MSC eco-labeled tuna factories use purse seines and bait to catch tuna. Sea Tales does not support this type of fishing because it involves a high bycatch of other species. Only tuna caught with pole & line meets our requirements. With this fishing method, there is actually no bycatch. Other MSC-certified tuna fisheries are therefore out of the question for Sea Tales. According to Greenpeace and others, this is the most sustainable way to catch tuna.

For many small fisheries, it isn’t easy to obtain the MSC label. Not because they do not meet the sustainability requirements, but because of the high costs and administrative burden. This makes the MSC eco-label more accessible to large fisheries. However, Sea Tales prefers to work with small-scale fisheries. Therefore, we, along with the Fish Tales Foundation, help small fisheries achieve the MSC certification when it is not otherwise possible. Therefore, many large MSC-certified fisheries will not be found in our range.

Furthermore, the MSC label does not include a clause for working conditions on board and in the factory, another priority for Sea Tales because we believe we need to take care of our oceans and the fishers. It is the only way we can continue to enjoy fish responsibly!

What about CO2 emissions from fishing?

The MSC label stands for sustainable fishing, but it does not consider the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Can this be called sustainable?

The focus of the label is to avoid overfishing. Sea Tales recognizes the importance of reducing emissions, both from us as a company and from partnered fisheries. Our fish is always transported by cargo ship, never by air. The carbon footprint of a fish product also depends on the fishing method. Therefore, a fish caught in the Netherlands does not necessarily have lower emissions than fish caught abroad.

In 2021, Sea Tales started measuring the emissions of the fisheries we work with and the transport to our warehouse. We use the program developed by the American NGO Seafood Watch to do this. To this, we add the estimated emissions of our joint office to get a total sum. We will present the results of our first measurements in our ‘Impact Report 2021’.

This calculation will give us insight into our CO2 emissions and those of the cooperating fisheries for the first time. Based on this, we will establish a plan to reduce or offset our emissions in the coming years. At the same time, we want to expand and improve our measurement method.