Intensified by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, climate change is today affecting every region of our planet to different but nevertheless damaging degrees. There is, however, the top-level, science-supported evaluation that it’s not too late to stabilise the situation, and this is in turn swelling the pool of commercial enterprises coming forward to announce net zero target ambitions.
For many, though, actually translating such commendable intensions into decarbonising actions is a far more challenging proposition. It’s widely being found that the majority of emissions are in companies’ supply chains and not in their own direct operations. They are therefore realising that in order to make progress, they must engage with and collaborate across their value chains, sourcing products and services with lower emissions. Indeed, a growing number of corporate buyers are asking their suppliers to decarbonise as part of their purchasing criteria.
As a global food category, seafood has the opportunity to be a frontrunner. Aquatic species sourced from oceans and freshwater systems – wild-caught and farmed – are already produced in ways that are more environmentally sustainable than most terrestrial foods. Sustainable fisheries management has led to stronger fish stocks and less fishing effort for each tonne caught. In addition to improved fishing vessel design, the sector has become much more profitable by investing in research and innovation, including the creation of green and hi-tech solutions.
At the same time, aquaculture has introduced innovations that have improved cost-efficiencies, productivity and profitability, while also progressing sustainability, responsible best practice and conservation goals. There’s also a large number of new feed technologies and production systems in the pipeline that will enable this sector to continue to grow more sustainably.
Carbon footprinting offers a further means to bolster seafood’s sustainability credentials, with the understanding that businesses that successfully measure their own footprints, together with those of the value chain and the greenhouse gases released through their products’ full lifecycle, are much better placed to identify areas to reduce emissions and other costs.
This so-called “cradle to grave” approach – capturing measurable emissions generated all the way from raw material sourcing, through to the manufacture, distribution and consumption stages – not only offers much more robust traceability data, it provides a strong platform from which to reduce carbon footprints, and then to communicate this progress to end-consumers.
There’s also the opportunity to adopt carbon footprint labelling, which is increasingly being seen as a means for brands to hook more consumers that are looking for products with climate goals and emission targets.
Recent industry analysis determined that climate change directly influences the behaviour and attitudes of conscious consumers, confirming that here’s a thirst for information, with people wanting to learn more about companies’ social and environmental impact. It was also found that they want to be confident that they’re not buying unsustainable seafood, and to know that the fish on their plates could be traced back to a known and trusted source.