Seafood Sustainability Initiatives and Auditing Division (SSIAD)

Division Overview

MRAG Americas’ SSIAD provides expert advice and support for a range of seafood sustainability programs and initiatives, including independent auditing and verification of sustainability and responsible sourcing claims. Clients come from the private and public sectors, including vessel companies, seafood suppliers and retailers, governments, international development agencies, foundations and NGOs. We have worked with, and continue to serve, fishers, processors, brokers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and everyone in between. Our staff offers a combined 30+ years of national and international experience, and our global network of auditors is multilingual and highly knowledgeable about fisheries and seafood.

The services and auditing provided by this Division are different and separate from those in our Certification Division. The seafood sustainability initiatives we service here are generally internal to the companies that have developed and adopted them and not part of an external ISO-compliant third party certification scheme like MSC or RFM. We work closely with a wide range of entities, from small boat owners and shore-side processors to large multi-national corporations, to help them develop their own sustainable sourcing policies and standards, conduct risk analyses, and/or provide independent verification of the implementation of a policy already developed. Our staff have fisheries science and management backgrounds, and many have also worked on fishing vessels, in seafood processing plants, and with NGOs on their seafood buyer engagement programs, giving us a unique understanding our clients’ operations and needs. Some recent and on-going projects include independent audits of companies participating in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and vessels listed on the ISSF Proactive Vessel Register (PVR), shellfish farm sustainability audits, and validation assessments for electronic traceability systems and sustainability statement fact-checking for company websites.

Supplier Audits and Sustainable Sourcing Projects

We have worked with retailers to develop internal requirements and buying standards to ensure that the products they sell have been farmed, harvested, and/or handled responsibly throughout the supply chain.  We ensure that  products meet retailers’ strict standards, and are properly segregated, labeled and transported until products reach their destination.

We have also reviewed supply chains for major retailers and worked with them to develop strategies to address risks from Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, unsustainable environmental practices, and social issues such as child and forced labor.  MRAG assessors have provided technical reviews to clients wanting to use their own standards and/or other globally recognized standards. Key to this work is determining which sources of data to trust for the analysis. MRAG’s work is always evidenced-based and fully transparent, so that clients have a clear understanding of where the information originated, why it was utilized and how conclusions were reached. This allows businesses to make informed decisions, based on the best available information.

Seafood Traceability Exercises

We have conducted traceability exercises  across global tuna supply chains and for smaller operators seeking  a solution for their specific business model. Traceability exercises may focus on a desk audit of a product’s “paper trail”, but may also include on-site audits. These exercises  demonstrate client  awareness, provide visibility of where products have come from, reduce the risk of unwanted products leaking into  the supply chain from unsustainable sources, and enable clients to back-up public claims regarding the provenance of their product offerings.

Helpful Links

Audit reports for ISSF Participating Companies
PVR audit protocols

Contacts

Southeast – St. Petersburg, FL
Oleg Martens
oleg.martens@mragamericas.com
Office (727) 563-9070

Global Experience

MRAG Americas is part of the family of MRAG companies that includes MRAG Ltd and MRAG Asia Pacific. Our expertise has been utilized for more than 30 years in designing and implementing integrated resource management systems in over 60 countries. MRAG Americas offers a strong capability to respond rapidly and effectively to needs in the Americas region.

Publications

MRAG scientists are highly published in peer-reviewed journals and symposium proceedings, have presented invited papers at international meetings, and write large scale reports for governments and NGOs.