New England Seafood’s Focus on Sustainability Again Draws Prestigious Recognition from UK Retailers

Seafood

Author

Woocheen

Date

December 08, 2023

2023 Awards Celebrate Outstanding Achievements in Both Wild Fisheries and Aquaculture

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NESI's Douglas Adam, Ruth Hoban and Seth McCurry celebrate NESI's awards at Fishmongers Hall in London in October 2023.

Being recognized by customers for responsible practices is one of the highest honors a company can receive, said Ruth Hoban, Head of Sustainability at New England Seafood International (NESI).

That makes it especially noteworthy that, for the fourth time since 2018, NESI has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) UK Retail Supplier of the Year award, which recognizes outstanding achievement and performance in sustainable fishing and seafood. Magnifying the honor, Hoban said, NESI also received the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s UK Retail Supplier of the Year award. This is the first time NESI has won both awards, which are based on nominations by retail customers.

“Our ultimate judges are our customers. We do all of this for them,” Hoban said. “They have so many suppliers to choose from, and they choose us in large part because they know they can count on us to bring the highest standards possible to our work. These awards are wonderful recognition of that.”

The MSC award goes to a supplier that has gone above and beyond to deliver real impact from within the UK seafood supply chain and championed sustainability for their customers. This could include bringing new certified species into the market, demonstrating longstanding support for the MSC program and/or investing time and resources into supporting the sustainable seafood movement through other initiatives.

“NESI have won the MSC UK Supplier of the Year award for the fourth time this year, a tremendous recognition of the business’ hard work and commitment to helping their customers achieve their sustainability goals,” said George Clark, Programme Director, UK & Ireland. “For years, they have invested in building trust and awareness in the MSC programme within their supply base, and used this expertise to support a number of fisheries on their journey to MSC certification. This award is a well-deserved recognition for the leadership they have shown and the long-term commitment they have made to sustainability that has been so instrumental in driving our programme’s growth in the UK.”

Achieving all of this means working closely with suppliers, scientists, nonprofits and governments to ensure more stocks are left for future generations than are taken from the oceans. It means protecting marine ecosystems and using ever-improving gear, technology and reporting to continually learn and minimize environmental and social impacts, Hoban said.

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Sustainable seafood also calls for responsibly harvesting both wild and farmed fish, she said.

“There’s a real need to have responsible aquaculture as part of our food system,” she said. “Seafood is a delicious, nutritious, carbon-smart protein, and wild populations will never be enough to feed the world. It’s amazing to be recognized for our consistent work to make aquaculture better and stronger.”

Aisla Jones, ASC Market Development Manager for the UK and Ireland, said, “We were delighted to see NESI win the ASC UK Supplier of the Year award for 2023! In addition to being nominated by Waitrose, NESI’s win was also due to their commitment to ASC certification and for their role as ambassador to ASC over the past year. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve together in future.”

Hoban is quick to point out that sustainability requires companies to constantly strive for improvement.

“We are never finished,” she said. “At NESI, we fiercely focus on doing better, year after year. We don’t shy away from the tough challenge, and we’re proud of that.”

Sealaska bought NESI in October 2020 to strengthen its focus on consumer-centric, premium, chilled fish and seafood and build its capacity to provide globally integrated, world-class processing and food from the world’s best-managed fisheries. Through its Woocheen family of businesses, Sealaska is working to foster ocean health by growing demand for delicious, sustainably sourced ocean-based food.