The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions convenes the world’s leading non-profits that work in the sustainable seafood movement. In 2021, the Alliance launched a global hub and opened its doors to other types of organizations including the seafood industry. Lusamerica was one of the first companies to join the Conservation Alliance’s new Global Hub.
Our Director of Communications & Sustainability, Peter Adame presented and served on a panel during the Conservation Alliance’s 2023 Annual Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico from October 23-26 at the Fairmont Hotel. He presented on our local seafood program providing a case study on the next chapter of West Coast groundfish and was a featured panelist with the conservation NGO FishWise digging into “due diligence activities” companies can take to reduce the risk of forced labor in supply chains.
The conference was attended by over 100 leaders in the sustainable seafood space from 14 countries representing 68 organizations.
FISHWISE PANEL: Examples of Due Diligence Activities
FishWise consults businesses on improving their supply chain sustainability and is a leading NGO in the sustainable seafood movement. The panel FishWise hosted during the conference was moderated by Executive Director, Jenny Barker, and included FishWise’s Senior Director of Business Engagement, Michelle Beritzhoff-Law, and Lusamerica’s Communications & Sustainability Director, Peter Adame.
What is seafood supply chain due diligence?
A systematic and ongoing risk management process that enables companies to indentify, prevent, mitigate, and accout for their acutal and potential adverse environmental and human rights impacts, and conduct business in a responsible manner.
FishWise kicked off the Due Diligence panel by walking attendees through their latest framework model encouraging companies to consider the following steps on a continual basis:
Here are some examples of the ways Lusamerica Foods is following this model that were highlighted during the panel discussion:
Lusamerica has a robust Supplier Approval Policy it undertakes with all new and active suppliers. While the focus is primarily on food safety and quality, the onboarding requirements incorporate traceability and human rights components. Repositrak is the cloud-based system we use to ensure all documents are completed and active with our supplier vendors.
- Supplier Profile Questionnaire:
- Can the vendor trace back to the boat or farm? How?
- Are they audited for social compliance and by whom?
- Confirm compliance with the Food Bioterrorism Act of 2002
- Do they have an Allergen Control Program?
- What is their Pest Control Program?
- Do they conduct product testing?
- Plus, additional requirements for imported fish
- HACCP Compliance Letter and HACCP Plan (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points)
- Certificate of Liability Insurance
- Letter of Continuing Guarantee
- Supplier Indemnity Agreement
- Recall Letter of Acknowledgement
- Product Composition Change Letter of Agreement
- PFAS Declaration
- 3rd Party Audit Certificates or Regulatory Letter
- Letter of Continuing Guarantee
- Social Compliance Commitment Acknowledgement
- Endorsing our stance on human rights and communicating that we do not tolerate seafood that has been produced or processed using slavery, human trafficking, or child labor and that federal, state, and local laws must be followed.
Other Lusamerica activities include:
- Promoting sales on their local seafood program that is completely transparent and direct via their dock in Monterey Bay and through direct partnerships with fishermen in California, Oregon, and Washington.
- Lusamerica’s Sustainability Policy is published publicly on Lusamerica.com.
- Sustainability trainings are held with owners, buyers, sales reps, and merchandisers.
2. COLLECT & ASSES:
- Lusamerica uses “SAP” for its in-house traceability system which allows tracking of key data elements for every individual batch of seafood that is bought, processed, and sold. Data points collected include:
- scientific name
- country of origin
- country of processing
- FAO catch area
- fishing or rearing method
- data for any applicable eco-certification and fishery improvement projects (chain of custody codes, farm codes, plant codes, hatchery codes, feed codes, FIP names, and FIP participants)
- Sustainability reports are pulled and assessed for key customers on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis.
- During the conference panel, Peter dug into the monthly reporting we are doing for Albertsons Company and how it entails reviewing an Excel report of roughly 28,000 lines every month.
- Lusamerica is engaging deeper with suppliers in priority species groups such as tuna and farmed salmonids. Fish feed and plant details are being collected for key farmed salmonid suppliers (Atlantic salmon and farmed steelhead trout) and vessel level data is being collected for key tuna suppliers.
- Lusamerica engages with two non-competitive partnerships outside of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. One is the Coalition for Sustainable Aquaculture, and the other is the Global Tuna Alliance.
- During the panel, Peter shared how he engaged directly with Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) delegates in person at the 101st session of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commissions (IATTC) in Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. The trip was financially powered by PEW Charitable Trusts and allowed Peter to observe the meeting as a part of the Global Tuna Alliance’s delegation. While in Victoria, Peter advocated for conservation proposals to various representatives from countries Lusamerica sources to strengthen the international management of tuna.
- Lusamerica engages its local communities and highlighted its partnerships with small-scale day boats via their dock in Moss Landing Harbor and with food banks via its partnership with the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust.
- Lusamerica started leasing its own dock in 2020. Peter shared about the initial backlash from some small-scale fishermen but also the progress that has been made over the years to build relationships. In 2022, 95% of the vessels offloaded at their dock were from small-scale day boats.
- Grenadier is an underutilized local fish that has been the perfect species to engage local food banks via the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust’s Community Seafood Program. The Fisheries Trust raises funds and uses the money to purchase from seafood suppliers like Lusamerica who are working with local fishermen. In turn, Lusamerica processes and distributes the local seafood to various food banks in the region like Meals on Wheels and the Food Bank for Monterey County. Utilizing grenadier in the Community Seafood Program makes fishing more viable to our black cod fishermen who catch grenadier as bycatch and traditionally are unable to sell the fish as a market doesn’t exist for it. The low cost of the fish allows the Trust to stretch their funds into more meals and the food banks are grateful to serve a healthy, tasty protein to those in need.
- Lusamerica has set up sustainability reports within their existing SAP system to produce key data elements on any seafood for any customer as needed. Many are already produced on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis.
- Sustainability reports inform our Sustainability Director who works with our buyers to phase out red-rated seafood and provide support by providing leads of potential new suppliers.
- In addition to their in-house traceability software, SAP, Lusamerica has also upgraded to Trace Register 5 which is a third-party traceability system that is compliant with the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability (GDST).
- The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions has served as an excellent resource to stay in the loop on the latest conservation tools, watchdog reports, and relevant resources. Lusamerica utilizes the following free resources and platforms to cross-check against their sourcing data.
- Lusamerica peppers stories of progress throughout its social media channels including Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, X, and YouTube.
- Internally, Lusamerica highlights a “Seafood of the Week” to all staff which is an ongoing marketing and education campaign that incorporates sustainability info along with sales points, nutrition facts, and culinary tips.
- As noted previously, Lusamerica also hosts their sustainability policy publicly on their website.
Peter highlighted several challenges that seafood companies face in terms of due diligence and sustainability:
- It is difficult to verify the accuracy of data received from other companies.
- Sales reps typically are not trained on certifications and ratings so are not aware of nuances such as chain of custody and how ratings can fluctuate based on the method and location.
- Self-assessments are likely not accurate and could penalize those who are self-assessing correctly.
- Traceability systems are very expensive and increasing dramatically in cost to be compliant with the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST).
- Some businesses are setting too strict or narrow sourcing policies which then exclude sustainable options (for example: only striving towards certified seafood and FIP seafood can result in green-rated or local products falling out of scope despite red-rated counterparts in FIPs being acceptable).
- Some businesses have confidential policies. Industry cannot support businesses with their sustainability goals if they do not know what their goals or priorities are.
- Bandwidth is limited and seafood companies are expected to do a lot under thin profit margins. The breadth of sustainability reporting continues to expand to include more data elements and other sustainability components such as carbon emissions.
The panel was well-received by attendees of the conference who valued an inside look into tangible examples and challenges. This was the first in-person Conservation Alliance conference that welcomed industry members and this panel was one of the few sessions that featured a representative from a seafood processor and wholesaler.