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Let the Games commence – sustainably of course


On the 23 July 2014, Glasgow will open the 20th Commonwealth Games since the first Games were held in 1930. The director of the Glasgow Games has stated that this could be the most sustainable sports event ever… but just what does that mean for the Games’ seafood customers and our oceans?

Pelagic trawler, Scotland ©naturepl.com/Chris Gomersall/WWF-CanonPelagic trawler, Scotland ©naturepl.com/Chris Gomersall/WWF-Canon

The background to the promise

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics promised to serve verifiable sustainable seafood, including products certified by the MSC, and delivered over 80 tonnes – my very rough calculations put this between 800,000 and 1 million helpings! Following on from this success we have seen similar fantastic commitments from these Glasgow Commonwealth Games and also the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games which will be held in 2016.

The organisers of these events got together, to sign a memorandum of understanding in December 2013, that states that they will only be sourcing verifiably sustainable seafood – hooray!

What they’ve said they’ll do

The Glasgow Games sustainable procurement policy specifically commits them to the following:

  • “Provide products that have been certified as ethically sourced…the Marine Stewardship Council…where they represent value for money and do not compromise other sustainability objectives.
  • Avoid procuring products that make use of any… food or food ingredients of plant or animal origin (including fish) of any species identified in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species…”
2012 Olympics food kiosk © Sustain2012 Olympics food kiosk

The MSC in Scotland

The Glasgow Games is perfectly positioned to fulfil its commitment to sourcing MSC seafood and locally sourced as much as possible because Scotland has more MSC certified fisheries than any other European country; overall in the UK, more than half of our quota managed fisheries are MSC certified. Claire Pescod, of the MSC, has recently been quoted in the press saying that this is a result of “The hard work and dedication of MSC certified Scottish fishermen in promoting sustainable fishing practices.

By prioritising and serving MSC-certified sustainable, Scottish seafood, the Games organisers are helping support a strong future for the fishing industry in Scotland. This is particularly good news for the MSC-certified Scottish haddock, saithe herring, mussels, scallop and crab fisheries”.

How do you ‘verify’ seafood sustainability?

The important bit of the commitment to me though is the verifiable bit of the commitment. For the Glasgow Games to be able to fulfil this it must be able to demonstrate that the seafood is sustainable and that what they claim about the seafood products is true to the consumer. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games achieved this element of their commitment by going the extra mile and communicating through use of the MSC logo that their seafood was from where it said it was.

Olympic ringsOlympic rings

This labelling proves to you the consumer with the verification that at the point of sale you are provided a piece of fish has been tracked from the sustainable source to the wrapping in packaging at every stage of its journey. This ‘chain of custody’ system is the back bone of any truly verifiably sustainable products including wood, paper, aqua- and agriculture, and fish from the open ocean.

Will they meet their target?

Last month, the Glasgow Games achieved the International Standards Organisation’s certificate for sustainable event management. However, not a fortnight later reports in the news were that the Games had broken its pledge to ban the most polluting vehicles from venue areas and admitted that vehicles had fallen short of their low emission targets. Organisers stated that they remain committed to sustainability… so with all eyes on them, it will be interesting to see if they are able to effectively communicate about their ability to verify sustainability to the spectators… let the Games begin!

What do you think about Tracy’s blog? Leave us a comment.

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