Greenwashing rife in salmon industry, Senate Inquiry submission backed by statewide groups.
Claims of 'green' and 'sustainable' by the Atlantic salmon industry should be investigated according to a Tasmanian-wide coalition's submission to the Federal Senate inquiry into Greenwashing.
The submission presents evidence that salmon farming 'spin' fails to meet international best practices as evidenced by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) which specifies sustainability claims should be truthful and substantiated.
"Salmon industry advertising, supermarket packaging, websites and social media promote an image that is clearly false," says coalition spokesperson, Jessica Coughlan.
"The rules on advertising claims of 'sustainability' are clearly insufficient, and the result is that shoppers are being fooled."
"Legislation needs to be tightened and false claims prosecuted."
The coalition's submission details how other players including eco-certification schemes, industry partnerships, government agencies, and politicians also contribute to corporate greenwashing.
"A recent Tasmanian Government media release claims the industry is 'sustainable and environmentally responsible' which simply parrots industry spin," says Ms Coughlan, campaigner with NOFF.
"What's happening in Macquarie Harbour, where the industry's operations have pushed the Maugean skate to the brink of extinction, is clear evidence that it's anything but sustainable."
Certification schemes continue to endorse Macquarie Harbour salmon farms despite more than 80 global conservation organisations, last month, demanding Best Aquaculture Practices and GLOBALG.A.P., stop greenwashing the extinction of the endangered Maugean skate.
"Major supermarket chains Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA are also complicit in this greenwashing through using such faulty certifications to label Macquarie Harbour farmed salmon and trout as "responsible".
Other submissions to the enquiry include the Australian Marine Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund. According to AMCS Tasmanian farmed salmon is red-rated – meaning consumers should avoid purchasing the product due to its environmental impacts.
Excerpt from submission:
Issue 1: The prevalence of environmental and sustainability claims by the salmon industry suggests that current guidelines and legislation are insufficient deterrents.
In spite of the science and lack of social licence, the industry has orchestrated an unwarranted favourable image of their companies, and the products they sell, to many unsuspecting Australian consumers. Vague and unsubstantiated environmental marketing claims and eco-labels such as "responsibly sourced", "best practices", and "sustainable" are pervasive on farmed salmon at supermarkets and restaurants, online on websites and social media, as well as in print media and television. Meanwhile, company sustainability reports and speaking points are embellished with environmental credentials in a way that misleads and deceives.
Issue 2: Current legislation fails to hold non-commercial actors to account and allows their greenwashing to go unchecked. Non-commercial actors also contribute to corporate greenwashing. Eco-certifications schemes that simply require certified farms to follow government regulations, mislead seafood shoppers with their promises. Non-government organisations can give cover to companies by co-opting endorsements. Industry partnership initiatives make environmental and sustainability claims that are sector-wide. Politicians are also using these vague claims to shore up the industry in news media.
- Establish legally enforceable standards for environmental and sustainability claims
- Explore ways to regulate non-commercial actors that contribute to corporate greenwashing.
- Identify and investigate specific sectors that are prone to greenwashing and/or and where consumer harm is likely, prioritising the Tasmanian Atlantic salmon industry.
As found on the Parliamentary site submission #125
Quotes from other submissions:
Australian Marine Conservation Society
"A primary platform of marketing and appeal to Australian consumers from Tasmania's sea cage- farmed Atlantic salmon industry is the sustainability credentials of the industry, supported by direct-to-market messaging, sustainability certification and government statements. Tasmania has held a reputation as a clean, green and pristine producer of food products that underpins its primary production economy and benefits other industries such as tourism. In our view, the environmental impact of Tasmanian Atlantic salmon sea cage-farming endangers that Reputation."
As found on the Parliamentary site SUBMISSION #78
World Wildlife Fund
"WWF-Australia harbours growing concerns that certification is increasingly being viewed as a tool to secure market access/market share or a 'social license', as opposed to recognition for environmental performance."
" With a likely increase in the number of sub-standard fisheries and farms seeking eco-label recognition, the burden on NGOs to 'police' certifications is increasing, placing an additional strain on NGOs' capacity and resources."
"WWF Australia strongly believes that government regulators have a clear responsibility to minimise the incidence of greenwashing through policing certifications and reinforcing the credibility and impact of private standards."
As found on the Parliamentary site SUBMISSION #20