Cooke is a privately-owned Canadian company active in fish farming, wild-caught fishing and aquaculture feed production. Salmon-farming is at the core of its business, though Cooke is also involved in fishing, trading and processing activities. The company has a network of subsidiaries and offices across North and South America, Europe and Asia.
Governance and management of stewardship practices
Though Cooke has developed a sustainability policy, it is relatively short compared to those of industry peers and only applies to the company’s aquaculture division. The policy includes broad, qualitative commitments to a limited number of sustainability-related metrics. Cooke should develop and implement a group-wide sustainability policy that is supported with time-bound objectives and quantitative targets to improve its performance and increase accountability around key sustainability issues.
Cooke performs poorly in transparency on all aspects of its supply chain. leaving stakeholders uninformed and demonstrating limited accountability. The company should implement policies and disclose data on supply chain factors such as the species, geographic location and certified status of the marine ingredients it sources or farms, and whether it is increasing the amount of material it procures from well-managed sources. Regarding Cooke’s environmental footprint, there is currently no information available on important metrics such as freshwater use, greenhouse gas emissions, food loss and waste, and plastic use.
Cooke does not publicly disclose its efforts to mitigate adverse impacts on the ecosystem, for instance how the company prevents and manages diseases in its aquaculture activities or how it addresses illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing risks and minimises bycatch. Cooke should provide evidence of the measures it takes to reduce or minimise negative impacts on the ecosystems where it operates.
In 2017, over 200,000 fish escaped a US-based farming site owned and operated by Cooke into Washington state waters. Escaped fish are problematic given that they can become invasive and compete with wild populations. Cooke states that it is upgrading its facilities to ensure that such events do not reoccur.
Implementation of human and labour rights policies
Through its ‘Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement’, Cooke’s aquaculture division commits to eradicating modern slavery from its operations and supply chains. However, Cooke does not provide any evidence of company procedures to identify, prevent, mitigate or account for its impact on human rights.