A new seafood industry code of practice backed by major multiples and suppliers will for the first time standardise environmental claims and sourcing information on packs of seafood.

The first draft of the voluntary code - produced by the Sustainable Seafood Coalition - was published for consultation yesterday (26 April).

SSC members, who will subscribe to the code, include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, M&S, Young’s Seafood and Birds Eye.

Where a self-declared environmental claim is made on-pack, the code stipulates members can only use terms relating to ‘responsibility’ or ‘sustainability’ and only when strict criteria are met. For example, a claim such as ‘from an eco-friendly fishery’ is not permitted but ‘sustainably fished’ is permitted.

Where fishing and aquaculture methods are mentioned on-pack, members must explain them or include a link to an explanation. For example, the use of ‘pole and line caught’ would require a link. Similarly, when fishing or farming area is stated (beyond legal requirements), the location of the area must be made clear. ‘The North Sea’ should be used, for example, rather than ‘ICES area IV’, with a link to a map depicting the area.

“This is not only an example of good industry practice but is also beneficial to the consumer,” said Peter Hajipieris, chief technical, sustainability & external affairs officer at Birds Eye Iglo, one of the founding members of the SSC.

The SSC was set up in 2011 by environmental law organisation Client Earth after its own report in January 2011 had found 22 out of 100 environmental claims on packs of seafood, bought from a number of the mults, were misleading.

The code applies to labels, menus, in-store signs or other B2B or B2C communications. The consultation will run for six weeks until 7 June.