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Our Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy

Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture products are products that have been caught or farmed using responsible practices that do not endanger the health of the species or the integrity of natural environments, and respect workers’ rights.


 

At METRO, we recognize that the health of the oceans and preservation of natural resources are vital. METRO is also aware that the fishing and aquaculture industries face important issues that concern the sustainability of fish and seafood stocks, the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as working conditions. In this context, we believe it is important to use good procurement practices for the products offered in our Fish and Seafood department.

METRO has therefore adopted a Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy. Implemented in 2010 and updated in 2018, the policy covers fresh, frozen and canned fish and seafood. It was developed based on scientific expertise, continuous monitoring of industry issues and trends, and relations with stakeholders interested in the matter. The policy is designed to oversee our procurement practices and foster the adoption of responsible, ethical fisheries and aquaculture practices. It is built around five procurement principles.

Procurement principles

1Healthy species

METRO believes that species health is an integral part of a responsible procurement process.

1.1 Wild species

METRO aims to commercialize wild species caught from healthy stocks whose fishing rates allow for renewal. A stock is considered healthy when it is not subject to overfishing and is not identified as being at risk. The species must be harvested in fishing zones that are well controlled and managed, and, when applicable, by means of quotas covered by the law and based on credible scientific assessments.

By fish stock, METRO means a group of individuals of the same species that live within the same geographic area that mix sufficiently to allow reproduction among them and have little contact with other stocks of that species.

1.2 Farmed species

METRO aims to commercialize aquaculture species that are farmed in healthy environments (water quality) which meet the different needs of the species. The practices used should minimize density and ensure that adequate feed is provided in terms of quality and quantity.

2Responsible operating methods

The fisheries and aquaculture farms that supply METRO will have to demonstrate that they use sustainable operating methods, as well as recognized best practices.

2.1 Wild species

For wild species, METRO favours the use of methods that limit environmental impacts, including on the seabed, as well as selective fishing methods which reduce the volume of bycatch (undesired species that are caught accidentally).

2.2 Farmed species

For aquaculture species, METRO favours practices that minimize environmental impacts, both physically (air, water and soil) and biologically (fauna and flora).

3Product traceability

Traceability is a central factor in implementing responsible fisheries and aquaculture practices. At METRO, we place great emphasis on traceability, and have implemented a rigorous traceability system that allows us to document the supply chain from the fishing zone or farm to the consumer.

We rely on the collaboration of our suppliers in implementing the system. For each product sold at METRO, our suppliers provide us with key traceability information, such as the species’ scientific name, provenance, and operating method. METRO also requires all its suppliers to demonstrate their ability to document, when asked, their chain of supply, extending back to the fishing vessel or farm.

Due to this traceability system, METRO is able to provide customers with informative, transparent labeling.

Common and scientific names

Some commonly used names, like “tuna,” “shrimp,” and “scallops,” refer to a number of different species, sometimes hundreds of species. Some of these species may be completely sustainable, while others are not. The scientific names (Latin names) are unique to each species. Using them means we can be sure we are referring to the right species.

Provenance

Some species are distributed over a wide geographic area. The stocks must therefore be assessed separately because there is little to no contact between them. A given species could therefore come from either a healthy stock, or a stock that is in poor condition. As there are marked differences between aquaculture practices, it is also important to identify the product’s source.

Location

The place of capture (location) is the place where the product is caught or raised, whereas Canadian legislation defines the country of origin as the place where the product was last processed. A fish that was caught in Canada but filleted in China would be labelled as a “Product of China.” METRO’s detailed labelling clearly identifies where the product comes from.

Capture

Identification of the type of capture differentiates between wild and farmed products.

Operating method

Knowing the operating method is important because some fishing and farming techniques have much less environmental impact than others.

DNA program

In addition to its traceability program, in 2013, METRO introduced a DNA testing program which involves having an outside lab analyzing products that could present identification risks. This initiative assures us that the information provided by the supplier is true, that we have received the correct product, and that we have labelled it properly.

4Respect for workers

All METRO suppliers must adhere to the METRO Supplier Code of Conduct for Responsible Procurement, one principle of which is respect for workers, as proof of their commitment to meet these criteria:.

5Socioeconomic development

In keeping with its responsible procurement principles, METRO hopes that its Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy will contribute to:

  • The development of fisheries, aquaculture farms, and local processing facilities in Quebec and in Ontario, in conjunction with its local purchasing policy;
  • The development of small-scale fisheries in the areas offering the products not available locally.

Policy implementation

Depending on the status of the stocks and operating methods used, METRO could put certain species under observation in its continuous improvement program, or temporarily withdraw them until there are no further issues.

1Continuous improvement program

METRO has identified specific groups of species that present increased risks in terms of sustainable fishing and aquaculture, either because the stock status is of concern or because of the potential impacts of the operating method used.

METRO nonetheless continues to sell these species under certain conditions. For all species placed in the continuous improvement program, vendors must meet the requirements established by METRO. Such requirements include obtaining credible, recognized certifications (such as BAP, ASC and Global GAP), active participation in species conservation, and improvement of fishing techniques.

The following species (or species groups) are under continuous improvement:

Open-environment farmed salmon

  • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
  • Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  • Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  • Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
  • Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

1.2 Imported shrimps

  • Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei)
  • Black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon)

1.3 Imported farmed fish

  • Tilapia (Oreochromis spp.)
  • Basa (Pangasius spp.)

1.4 Apex predators

  • Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)
  • Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga)
  • Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)
  • Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
  • Mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)
  • Marlin (Makaira spp.)

2Temporarily withdrawn species

METRO continually assesses all of the fish and seafood products it offers in its stores. Some stocks have been deemed to be more sensitive than others, and temporarily removed from our inventory. The main reasons for a withdrawal are declining stocks, a stock that is not abundant enough to support commercial fishing, a stock that is clearly subject to overfishing, or a threatened species status. METRO assesses these stocks each year. If the situation has clearly improved, a temporarily withdrawn species could be put back in inventory.

 

METRO has temporarily withdrawn the following species:

Common nameScientific nameProvenance
Atlantic redfishSebastes fasciatus
Sebastes mentella
Sebastes marinus (S. norvegicus)
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic codGadus morhuaNorthwestern Atlantic Ocean
Blue grenadierMacruronus novaezelandiaeAll regions
Orange roughyHoplostethus atlanticusAll regions
SharksAllAll regions
SkateAllAll regions
Bluefin tunaAllAll regions
Bigeye tunaThunnus obesusAll regions
White hakeUrophycis tenuisNorthwestern Atlantic Ocean
GrouperAllAll regions
Northern red snapperLutjanus campechanusAtlantic Ocean
Southern red snapperLujanus purpureusAtlantic Ocean
ParrotfishAllAll regions
Red mulletMullus barbatusMediterranean Sea
CongerConger spp.All regions

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