The Seafood Stewardship Index methodology consists of the benchmark’s scope and five measurement areas, which include a number of themes and indicators through which the selected companies are assessed. These indicators serve as the methodology’s foundation and were developed through research and multi-stakeholder dialogue. Moreover, to build on and add value to the existing landscape and deliver results that are relevant and impactful, the methodology relies on the best available science, aligns with relevant principles, normative standards and reporting frameworks, and builds on existing sector-, product- and issue-specific initiatives.

Scope of the benchmark
The methodology identifies the most relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for seafood stewardship, as well as the industries and companies that should be assessed.

SDG scope
An assessment of the SDGs and corresponding targets demonstrated that companies in the global seafood industry can make the most substantial contribution towards SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 14 (life below water), and SDG 15 (life on land). Though the seafood industry can also have an impact on the other SDGs, the benchmark addresses these seven.

Industry scope
Within the seafood industry, the SSI methodology focuses on companies involved in wild-catch fisheries and aquaculture that produce seafood as well as those that both produce and supply aquaculture feed. After consulting with stakeholders, aquaculture feed companies were included in the benchmark, given the impact that their production has on wild-capture fisheries through the use of fish meal and fish oil.

Company scope
The seafood industry’s keystone companies – based on the concept and characteristics of keystone actors as defined by Österblom et al in 2015, as those that play a vital role in the industry and have a disproportionate effect on the structure and function of the system in which they operate – are included in the SSI. Of the potential global seafood and aquaculture feed producers, 30 keystone companies were selected to be included in the benchmark based on three criteria. These criteria build on the keystone actor characteristics:

  • The company has one of the largest seafood- and/or aquaculture feed-related revenues;
  • The company has an important position within the supply chain, either by being active in multiple segments or dominating one segment; and
  • The company has international seafood-related subsidiaries and offices, and it sources and distributes products globally.

Measurement areas
The SSI methodology assesses company performance across five SDG-inspired measurement areas: governance and management of stewardship practices, stewardship of the supply chain, ecosystems, human rights and working conditions, and local communities. These measurement areas contain a total of 60 indicators. Moreover, corporate behaviour is measured across three categories of indicators: commitment, transparency, and performance. The SSI methodology uses a weighted approach to measure and compare company performance. Building on a model which applies pre-set weights across two axes, the five measurement areas form one axis and the three indicator categories sit on the other. Specific weights were assigned to every category between the axes, with the combined weights totalling to 100 percent along each axis.

Read the methodology

Approach to scoring and ranking

The SSI methodology scores each of the 60 indicators by using a set of criteria based on stakeholders’ expectations, the SDGs, guidance from experts, and extensive research on existing initiatives and current practices. These scoring guidelines use a scale from 0 to 5, where 5 is the maximum number of points that can be received for each indicator. To accurately reflect companies’ leading and lagging practices, the scoring guidelines were finalised after the data analysis process was complete and were published at the same time as the results.

As the SSI focuses on the keystone companies in the seafood industry, the parent companies were the starting point and main unit of analysis. In scoring performance across different subsidiaries, we sought to assess performance at a group-wide level to ensure all, relevant seafood operations worldwide for a company were assessed. In some cases with complex group structures, this resulted in companies being scored down where only one seafood subsidiary was leading on activities and other seafood subsidiaries lagged behind.

Data collection process
The SSI methodology for 2019 assesses relevant information from 2017 and 2018. Data was collected in the first instance using publicly available sources from company websites, including sustainability and corporate responsibility reports. Companies were also invited to directly participate in the data collection process by submitting information through an online questionnaire. The questionnaire was open during an eight-week period, from 3 May until 28 June 2019. All 30 companies were welcome to take part in the questionnaire, 20 companies provided additional information. The following ten companies were assessed only on the basis of publicly available information:

  • Cooke
  • High Liner Foods
  • Marubeni Corporation
  • Nomad Foods
  • Pacific Seafood Group
  • Red Chamber Group
  • SalMar
  • Shanghai General Fisheries Corporation
  • Trident Seafoods
  • Wales Group (Sea Value & Sea Wealth)

The companies that participated were then contacted to verify data and clarify certain points. The compiled data was used to assess individual company performance and produce company scorecards, as well as identify and analyse industry-level findings. The companies that did not submit additional information through the questionnaire were assessed solely based on publicly available data.

Data analysis
The compiled data was analysed by World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) researchers and, when necessary, verified by industry experts. A peer review system was put in place and quality checks were conducted internally by the WBA team, with the scoring guidelines subsequently revised in light of checks and feedback. Based on the company analysis, all companies were scored against these final guidelines.

Disclosing company scores
Scores for each company are publicly available at the indicator and measurement area level for all stakeholders. Individual company results are presented in company scorecards, and scores against each of the 60 indicators are disclosed in a detailed scoring sheet.

Non-applicable indicators
Given their disproportionate influence in the seafood industry, stakeholders expect keystone companies in the benchmark to demonstrate responsibility for issues that extend beyond their own operations. Though these companies may not have a direct influence on all matters covered by the 60 indicators, the SSI methodology still assesses and scores them against indicators relevant to their operations and supply chains. For instance, a company that processes or trades aquaculture products still has a responsibility for dealing with issues present in the primary production process, such as the responsible use of aquaculture feed or disease management. This extended responsibility for matters relevant to a company’s supply chain was reflected in the scoring guidelines.

However, not every indicator applies to each company in the benchmark, in view of their different business models and activities. For example, a fishing company that is not involved in aquaculture cannot be scored on aquaculture-related indicators, such as area-based management or prevention and mitigation of escapes. If an indicator does not apply, then the company is not scored on that indicator and [n/a] is marked in the scoring sheet.

See the scoring guidelines

Methodology development

The SSI methodology was developed according to a robust and structured benchmarking development cycle. It was built based on extensive research and outcomes resulting from multi-stakeholder dialogues.

Consultation process
Throughout the development of the methodology, consultations were organised to gather inputs and raise awareness about the SSI. Stakeholder roundtables took place in Jakarta (December 2016) and Tokyo (February 2018) to discuss expectations around the benchmark. Furthermore, outreach events were held in 2018 at the Seafood Expo North America (Boston) and the Seafood Expo Global (Brussels). In 2019, a final draft of the SSI methodology was made available during an eight-week online public consultation to gather stakeholder feedback. This consultation generated input from 25 different stakeholders, including ten of the companies in the benchmark.

Development process
The SSI methodology development process was supervised by an Expert Review Committee (ERC) consisting of independent external experts who advised on the benchmark’s structure, scope, methodology and analysis. The ERC provided feedback on the draft methodology multiple times, including a final review before publication.

Publication of the benchmark
In October 2019, the ranking, key findings and company scorecards were published online, with the benchmark officially launched at the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo. Company scorecards had previously been made available to the companies to inform them of their performance and ranking in the benchmark.