14 Jun Giving Fish a chance
Giving Fish a chance
Mankind has been pushing the ocean to its natural limits by catching fish faster than stocks can replenish. A deep dive into Jerónimo Martins’ sustainable fishing strategy shows it is possible to keep providing quality seafood solutions without compromising the future.
ON THE HOOK FOR A CHANGE
The ocean is the largest and least explored habitat on Earth. This boundless reservoir of life covers over 70% of the surface of the planet, being home to an extraordinary diversity of millions of species, plant and animal, whose lives are dependent on its resources.
More than 3 billion people in the world rely on fish as a major source of animal protein. Global fish production peaked at about 171 million tonnes in 2016, with aquaculture representing 47 percent of the total (The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 – Meeting the sustainable development goals, FAO, 2018).
For Jerónimo Martins, which sells over 220 species in both Portugal and Poland, fish is a big deal.
According to the same report, fisheries and aquaculture are worth 325 billion euros. As a result, apart from being essential for life, healthy oceans and responsible fisheries are of the utmost importance for a strong marine economy. However, since 1961, the annual global growth in fish consumption has been twice as high as the population growth and the level of current demand does not allow enough room for the natural regeneration of fish stocks. Several important commercial fish populations (such as Atlantic bluefin tuna) have declined to the point where their survival as a species is threatened.
For Jerónimo Martins, which sells over 220 species in both Portugal and Poland, fish is a big deal. It could not be otherwise, considering the fish consumption numbers in the countries where the Group operates.
Recently, the potential risks associated with the most sold species by Jerónimo Martins’ companies were subject to an extensive analysis. The research of the level of stock exploitation, the impacts on ecosystems and surrounding communities, as well as the traceability and working conditions concluded that none of the species sold were at high risk.
After assessing their degree of vulnerability, three actions to reduce the pressure on the threatened ones were defined: banning the purchase and sale of species classified as “Critically Endangered” and with no extraordinary permits; searching alternatives produced through aquaculture for species classified as “In Danger”; and limiting promotional activities with species classified as “Vulnerable” that were no obtained from aquaculture and/or f om sustainably managed stocks. For the Group, the most coveted species by consumers are herring (19%) – the “beef of the sea” -, cod (19%) and pollock (17%). In order to make sure it provide the freshest seafood to its customers and reinforce its role in the protection of fish stocks, the Group has been investing in aquaculture as a sustainable and healthy alternative to the consumption of wild fish since 2016.
By keeping control over the aquaculture fish feeding, the Jerónimo Martins agri-business is able to avoid the presence of heavy metals or microplastics in its fish species.
GROUP’S TOP SELLING SPECIES
By using more selective and less invasive methods, traditional fishing has permitted sustainable exploration of the oceans over the centuries. In Sesimbra, Portugal, fishing operators’ cooperative Artesanal Pesca was founded in 1986 with the aim of adding value to the products of the sea caught traditionally and in a sustainable manner in the municipality. For instance, to catch Scabbardfish their fishermen draw on the long line fishing technique, a passive one, and thus, less harmful for the marine ecosystem.
Besides, the use of whole Sardines or Mackerel as bait assures that young fish are virtually never caught. The organization also makes a difference in the promotion of fair trade, as it directly sells the fish caught by its members’ vessels, guaranteeing better prices for their production and associates. Moreover, the centralisation of the catches provides market positioning, scale and security for the operators and fishermen that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. In 2008, Artesanal Pesca started working with Jerónimo Martins. This partnership, which has been growing both in trust and sales in the last decade, illustrates how the Group incorporates such ethical, social and environmental concerns in its supply chains, while ensuring the quality and competitiveness of its offer.