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Albion Fisheries pledges to make ‘impactful change’ in seafood industry
It’s one thing for a company to steer clear of environmental harm. It’s another to do something to help.
Richmond-based Albion Fisheries has joined with several other North American seafood suppliers to create Sea Pact, a coalition that will fund and support projects aimed at improving the environmental sustainability of fishing and fish farms.
Formed this summer after a two-year process, the group of six like-minded companies will pool resources and knowledge to promote fisheries and aquaculture improvements. Sea Pact is pledging to sponsor projects that would likely be too large in scope for a single company to support.
Sea Pact is a way for suppliers to support an industry that has faced criticism for fishing practices—and ensure the longevity of an important protein source.
“Obviously the environment is really important to us,” said Guy Dean, Albion’s chief sustainability officer. “The only way that it makes sense for us for long-term is by eating sustainable seafood product that we know is going to be there and available for our future generations.”
Albion has long focused on seafood sustainability, said Dean, noting the company refuses to carry red-listed species. But that refusal didn’t really impact the industry.
“There were other people that probably weren’t as focused on sustainability that were still going to buy that fish,” he said. “The only way we’re going to get those people to change is by providing positive support by setting some standards on continuous improvement.”
Sea Pact recently wrapped up a grant proposal call for fisheries or aquaculture improvement projects or other environmental initiatives. Its board is set to analyze the bids later this month with the idea of offering funding for some projects. Projects could lead to positive change in the groundfish industry, for example, or create a sustainable prawn aquaculture program in Southeast Asia.
“That’s a really important one because everybody eats prawns. It’s one of the few items that there really isn’t a sustainable choice out there, to date,” said Dean. “If we can help in creating an aquaculture project that will now have a sustainable prawn out there that would be Ocean Wise (conservation program) approved, or SeaChoice green ranked, then we’ll really have made some impactful change within the seafood industry.”
Each one of the Sea Pact partners has a slightly different market. But they’re not just looking at what’s good for B.C. or Canada, they’re considering what’s good for North America and the seafood industry as a whole.
Cash for projects isn’t the group’s sole focus. Dean said as a collective, Sea Pact can make change by pooling existing resources, or by getting involved in projects like shoreline cleanups.
Quite simply, the network gives companies like Albion a larger voice. The firm is already the largest seafood distributor in Western Canada, but it’s still a regional distributor that can’t match firms such as High Liner Foods, which can influence change just through buying practices.
Said Dean: “As an individual distributor, we don’t have enough power to do that, but as a group, perhaps we do.”