Three billion people in the world rely on seafood as an important source of protein, especially in developing countries. The industry is facing serious challenges from climate change, increased pollution and plastics threatening the ecosystem. Our oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface and therefore needs to be managed responsibly.
At WBA we are assessing how the world’s 30 leading seafood companies are driving the urgently needed transformation of the global seafood industry. The seafood industry can make a change in driving sustainable management of our oceans. One way to encourage companies towards a more sustainable future is to benchmark their performance and to spur a race to the top. These benchmarks are available for everyone and can be used by policy-makers, investors, civil society and companies.
In October last year the WBA organised an 8-week public consultation on the draft methodology of the Seafood Stewardship Index (SSI). The methodology explains the benchmarking process and includes the indicators that are used to benchmark the 30 seafood companies. There was very positive engagement from more than 25 stakeholders, including 11 companies that are in the scope of the SSI. Feedback ranged from general comments on the SSI methodology to specific feedback at indicator level. The feedback has been analysed and processed into a final methodology, including a revised set of indicators. These indicators were sent for a final review to the Expert Review Committee, and the final methodology has now been approved by the Executive Board of the WBA.
We would like to thank all stakeholders for their feedback to help shape the first SSI. Below we have outlined five key outcomes from the public consultation and final ERC review.
- Increased number of indicators
The draft methodology that went out for public consultation included 55 indicators; the final methodology now has 60 indicators. All indicator feedback has been processed, which has led to a revised and improved set of indicators. Most of the new indicators were added in measurement area D (Human rights and working conditions). The theme ‘Equal opportunities’ has been replaced by the theme ‘Gender equality’. Previously, this theme already had indicators related to gender equality. Stakeholders emphasised the need for more focus on the position of women in the seafood industry.
- Better alignment with international frameworks and guidelines on human and labour rights
Measurement area D, particularly the theme ‘Worker rights and status’, has been revised significantly. Several stakeholders advised that this theme and its indicators should align more with international frameworks and guidelines, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and core International Labour Organization (ILO) standards. As part of the revisions, new indicators about respecting human rights, grievance mechanisms and remediation for workers have now been included.
- New weighted approach
Several stakeholders gave recommendations on the weight of the different indicator categories (commitment, transparency, performance) and the weight of the five measurement areas. In general, performance indicators were considered to be the most important as this is where companies can make the most significant actual impact. The weight of performance therefore has increased from 40% to 50% and the weight of commitment indicators was lowered from 30% to 20%. For the weight of the measurement areas, measurement area C (Ecosystems) remains most important with a weight of 35%. The weights of measurement areas B (Stewardship of the supply chain) and D (Human rights and working conditions) were increased to 20% and 25% respectively. Measurement area A (Governance and management of stewardship practices) and E (Local communities) both now have a weight of 10% (previously 15%).
- Increased clarity and guidance for companies
Based on stakeholder feedback to give companies more clarity and guidance about how companies will be assessed, the section of the analytical framework has been revised. The different steps of the data collection and analysis process have been laid out in detail. Also, a section that explains what information companies can use to provide evidence has been added. The section detailing key concepts and definitions has been improved and expanded.
- No major revisions in the scope of the benchmark
In general, stakeholders agreed with the industry scope and the proposed companies in scope of the SSI. Most stakeholders also agreed on the inclusion of current SDGs in scope, although there were several suggestions for adding additional SDGs. Companies in the seafood industry can impact other SDGs as well, but the current seven SDGs is where seafood companies have the most significant impact. Within SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG target 5.2 has been added.
For any further questions or clarifications about the methodology report. Please reach out to Rik Beukers.