Austevoll Seafood ASA (Austevoll) is a Norwegian group that owns several seafood operations around the world. The group owns and operates fishing vessels, fishmeal plants, processing plants and salmon farms. Its main subsidiaries are Norwegian seafood company Lerøy Seafood, Peruvian seafood company Austral, and Foodcorp Chile. Overall, the group employs nearly 7,000 people across 18 countries.
Governance and management of stewardship practices
Austevoll’s salmon farming subsidiary Lerøy is among the industry’s leaders in transparency . The company discloses the amounts of antibiotics and chemicals used to remove lice and reports its interactions with wildlife, such as accidental deaths. Lerøy also offers a detailed breakdown of the marine ingredients used in its feed, by species and catch method.
Escaped fish are problematic given that they can lead to interbreeding with wild populations or become invasive. In 2017 and 2018, Austevoll subsidiary Lerøy reported only 1,200 and 115 escapes respectively, among the lowest from the salmon farming companies included in the benchmark. The subsidiary ultimately aims to prevent any fish from escaping and indicates that it is working both internally and with suppliers to achieve its zero escapes target.
Implementation of human and labour rights policies
Austevoll, through its subsidiaries Lerøy Seafood, Austral and Foodcorp, commits to respecting human and labour rights through its code of conduct. While the group states that it has zero tolerance for violations of fundamental human rights, it lacks disclosure around the procedures in place to identify, prevent, mitigate and remediate any potential adverse human rights impacts resulting from its operations. Furthermore, although the group provides regular and documented training for all of its employees to reduce health and safety risks, it should disclose what measures it takes to prevent and minimise work-related accidents.
There is no clear evidence that Austevoll has a group-wide sustainability strategy in place that encompasses the entirety of its seafood activities. It is also unclear whether Austevoll and its main subsidiaries align on their sustainability strategies. While the group’s annual report refers to aspects of environmental and social responsibility, it does not establish any time-bound or forward-looking targets, whereas some of its subsidiaries do report on targets, such as Lerøy Seafood with both plastic and food waste.
Austevoll has developed a systematic approach to be more transparent about the origins of its marine ingredients. It publishes a quarterly overview of the total volume fished by the group and its subsidiaries, providing data on the species and tonnage in addition to whether the fish was caught by the group’s own vessels or purchased. Austevoll could supplement its current reporting with information about the certified status of its marine ingredients to match that of leading industry peers.
Austevoll’s subsidiaries are working to reduce their environmental footprint. Lerøy Seafood has implemented recirculation technology, reducing freshwater use by 45 percent. The company aims to reduce its food waste and plastic use by 50 percent within five years, though does not provide any evidence on how it intends to achieve this goal or how much progress it has made. Similarly, Austral monitors greenhouse emissions across its processing plants and has successfully reduced emissions at its Pisco plant by switching to gas for energy provision. Austevoll could consolidate its reporting on the environmental impact of the group’s operations. Also, to increase transparency and accountability at the parent level, Austevoll could establish group-wide targets across key environmental metrics as well as identify which subsidiaries will work towards each target.