More than two years since Bolton Food made an ambitious commitment to reduce its environmental and human rights impacts along its tuna supply chain, an initial assessment has been published on its progress. The commitment follows years of pressure from 2010-2018 by Greenpeace activists, supporters and concerned individuals across the globe.
Conducted by MRAG Americas, a private consulting and auditing company, the compliance report shows some positive steps the Italian-owned company has taken towards delivering sustainable fisheries commitments, but stronger efforts are needed to meet the promises to its consumers. In particular progress on human rights remains to be seen.
Under the assessment, US-based fishing, trading, and processing firm Tri-Marine, which Bolton Group took over ownership of in July 2019, was unable to provide sufficient evidence to show that its vessels comply with Bolton’s fishing standards and human rights policies.
Giorgia Monti, Senior Ocean Campaigner at Greenpeace Italy said:
“The ‘lack of sufficient evidence’ as highlighted by the auditor suggests either poor communication between Bolton and Tri-Marine; or lack of effort by Tri-Marine to ensure its suppliers are informed of, and comply with, Bolton’s human rights policy. So even as Tri-Marine as its tier one supplier, this assessment shows it proves to be challenging for Bolton to ensure policies are followed through at the fishing vessels level.”
On sustainable fishery practices there are more encouraging signs with Bolton clearly committed to improving standards in the seafood industry through its partnership with Oxfam Italia, as well as its previous agreement with WWF in 2017. However movement is slow and far from a 2020 target of sourcing 50% of tuna from more selective fishing methods with a lower level of by-catch and environmental impact.
“The devil is in the details, and if Bolton wants to become a leader in improving industry standards we need to see more urgent action. To genuinely honour its commitment, Bolton needs to be firmer with its suppliers, especially Tri-Marine, and ensure strong standards and assessments are thorough and transparent in the future. Our oceans cannot sustain the pressure of overfishing and illegal bycatch and we need companies like Bolton to step up.”