Thursday, April 7, 2011

AQUACULTURE: Cooke Aquaculture responds to Ecolabel critics.

April 6, 2011

Cooke Aquaculture Committed to Environmental Sustainability and Continuous Improvement and Welcomes Constructive Criticism

As an Atlantic Canadian family company whose motto is: “refusing to go with the flow,” Cooke Aquaculture is always ready to rise to new challenges, to work more efficiently and responsibly and to initiate and implement necessary reform.

Cooke was a founding member and has been an active participant of the WWF Salmon  Aquaculture Dialogue. In 2008, the company decided to step out in front of the environmental sustainability movement to meet the growing demand from its customers - rather than wait for the WWF Salmon Standard to be completed. The company sought certification to the Seafood Trust CQS and Eco-label, independent Standards that are audited by Global Trust, an internationally accredited company that is certified to ISO 65 standards. Today, all of the company’s hatcheries and plants and many of its farms have been certified to this CQS and Eco-label and Eco-certified products are being embraced by key customers.

Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of the Seafood Trust Certified Eco Label program,  which requires us to conduct annual internal audits on all of our hatchery, farm and processing facilities and also to submit to annual external audits by an internationally accredited certification body. We are required to demonstrate goals and objectives for improvement at each audit and are then measured for how well we achieve these goals.

The Living Ocean Society and CAAR recently released a report entitled: “A Resource Guide to Farmed Salmon.” The report refers to Cooke Aquaculture’s Seafood Trust Eco-Salmon and states that the company’s certified products “use an industry-led standard that lacks credibility due to its failure to comply with recognized guidelines for certifications and lacks sound environmental standards.”

Cooke welcomes constructive criticism and has, in fact, opened its operations for tours by members of this Coalition and continues to encourage visitors and invites suggestions for improvement. Over the past few years, we have shared numerous documents, SOPs, and farmspecific information with organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the New England Aquarium and with major retailers. We have also invested in Integrated Multi-trophic scientists and with governments to create the regulatory environment that will enable expansion of that program to new jurisdictions.


We offer the following points of clarification to address concerns raised by this report:

• Seafood Trust is an independent, internationally accredited Standard. It is audited by an 
internationally accredited company, Global Trust, which is certified to ISO 65.
• Seafood Trust is not a Cooke program. The Standard does not belong to Cooke; however, we
are audited and then certified by an independent body to that Standard.  It is absolutely critical
to us that the Standard is independent and arms length.  We would not invest in it otherwise.
• The Standard is transparent.  Even though it is a privately held Standard that was developed by
an Independent Technical Committee, it has been provided by Global Trust to NGOs who have
asked for a copy.
• The Eco-label is based on continuous improvement and annual internal and external audits by
qualified, internationally accredited auditors.  
• Cooke is committed to meeting a high standard for sustainability and its people are proud of
each operation’s certification to the Seafood Trust CQS and Eco labels.  We are all committed 
to the Company’s culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
• Cooke continues to be actively engaged in the WWF Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue, and 
participates in the process of developing  that Salmon Standard.  We also provide technical 
support in the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA)’s Standard development process.
• It is our hope that the members of the Living Oceans Society and CAAR share our goal for
developing a sustainable and viable Canadian salmon-farming sector and, like us, are 
committed to constructively working through dialogues like the WWF Salmon Aquaculture 
Dialogue toward final development of its Standard.
• We encourage members of the Living Oceans Society and CAAR to work with us and with our
Canadian industry colleagues - rather than against us - so that we can achieve the common goal
of growing a healthy and sustainable Canadian salmon farming industry.   Together we  can 
meet the growing demand for healthy, nutritious seafood while protecting the health of the 
marine environment upon which we all depend.

Based in Black Harbour, New Brunswick,  Cooke Aquaculture is an Atlantic Canadian family 
company that employs more than 2,000 people in the rural and coastal communities of Eastern Canada and the State of Maine. Cooke’s Atlantic salmon are grown in the region’s cold, pristine waters where they are given ample space to swim, top-quality feed, and the care of professional veterinarians and biologists. Through its marketing and distribution division, True North Salmon, Cooke is dedicated to delivering the freshest farmed seafood products, year-round, to customers in Canada and the United States.

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