Seafood Sourcing Division

Division Overview

MRAG Americas’ Seafood Sourcing Division provides supply chain analysis and independent auditing services for all organizations involved in seafood supply chains, including the private sector, governments, international development agencies and NGOs. We have worked with, and continue to serve, fishermen, processors, brokers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and everyone in between. Our staff offers a combined 30+ years of national and international experience, and our global network of auditors is multilingual and highly knowledgeable about fisheries and seafood.

MRAG Americas conducts both consultancy projects and auditing work on fisheries. It is essential that we maintain clear separation of these activities and ensure that we do not undertake any consulting work that might impact the independence of our auditing activities. MRAG Americas is an accredited Conformity Assessment Body for MSC assessments and we have established rigorous conflict of interest management policies and procedures to ensure complete independence and impartiality of our MSC fishery and chain of custody assessments.

Chain of Custody (CoC) Certifications

As an accredited Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) conformity assessment body (CAB), MRAG Americas has evaluated hundreds of COC clients, leading to certifications of companies ranging from small, single-employee brokers to national groups with hundreds or even thousands of sites such as Whole Foods Market, McDonald’s US, McDonald’s Canada and Loblaw’s.  Additional clients include James Madison University and the University of Virginia, Bumble Bee Foods, Ducktrap River of Maine, Kraft-Heinz Foods Company, and Starkist.

Our roster of auditors allows us to accommodate both national and international work on short notice. Senior team oversight, regular witness audits and re-training ensure that we maintain a high level of quality and consistency across projects. Our unique position as a science-based consultancy, with deep knowledge of fisheries management, policy and seafood supply chains, allows us to provide clients with balanced reports and insights that are highly respected by governments, NGOs and major seafood buyers. Additionally, our experience with a wide variety of COC clients gives us intimate knowledge of traceability and the data-entry process, including requirements and challenges, at all steps of the supply chain.

Supplier Audits and Sustainable Sourcing Projects

Beyond MSC and ASC Chain of Custody, we have worked with retailers to develop internal requirements and buying standards to ensure that the products they sell have been farmed or harvested, transported, processed and handled responsibly.  These standards apply to the entire supply chain, to ensure that the product meets the retailers’ strict standards, and are properly handled, segregated, labeled and transported until the time the product reaches desired locations.

MRAG has also reviewed supply chains for major retailers (i.e. retailer names subject to NDAs) and has worked with them to develop strategies to address risks from Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, unsustainable environmental practices, and child and forced labor issues.  MRAG assessors have provided technical reviews (i.e. assessments) to clients wanting to use their own standards and/or other globally recognized standards. Key to this work is determining which sources of data to trust for the analysis. MRAG’s work is always evidenced-based and fully transparent, so that clients have a clear understanding of where the information originated and why it was utilized. This allows businesses to make informed decisions, based on the best available and unbiased data.

Seafood Traceability Exercises

We frequently run traceability exercises for a variety of clients, ranging from tuna supply chains spanning the globe, to CoC clients, to smaller operators wanting a solution which caters to their specific business model. Traceability exercises are typically focused on the product’s paper trail, but can be supported through on-site audits. While any exercise only offers a ‘snapshot’ of the supply chain, it does demonstrate client interest in the process, provides more visibility regarding where the product has been, minimizes the risk of unwanted products ‘slipping’ into the chain, and allows clients to back-up public claims they might want to make regarding their product offering.

Seafood Sourcing Projects

We work with a variety of clients, from small shore-side processors to large multi-national corporations. Our staff have fisheries science and management backgrounds, and many have also worked on various fishing vessels, in seafood processing plants, and with NGOs on their seafood buyer engagement programs, giving us some unique understanding our clients’ operations. Some recent and on-going projects include independent audits of vessels listed on the ISSF Proactive Vessel Register (PVR), chain of custody certifications for the Marine Stewardship Council, shellfish farm sustainability audits, and validation assessments for electronic traceability systems and sustainability statement fact-checking for company websites. Some notable clients include Walmart, Whole Foods Market, Loblaws, The Packard Family Foundation, The Kingfisher Foundation, Santa Monica Seafood Company and Starkist.

Helpful Links

2018-2019 MSC/ASC CoC Application Package
MSC supplier database
ASC supplier database
MSC Certified Fisheries List
Audit reports for ISSF Participating Companies
PVR audit protocols

Contact

Northeast – Danvers, MA
Jennie Harrington
Senior Certifications Manager
jennie.harrington@mragamericas.com
Office (978) 768-3880 / Cell (603) 591-5798

Pacific Northwest – Seattle, WA
Chris Spring
Senior Manager
chris.spring@mragamericas.com
Office (206) 430-5286 / Cell (206) 288-3137

Southeast – St. Petersburg, FL
Oleg Martens
Senior Manager
oleg.martens@mragamericas.com
Office (727) 563-9070

Global Experience

Our ability to service an extensive array of resource management needs is further extended through our network of collaborations with internationally acclaimed experts from academic institutions and other private organizations worldwide.

Publications

MRAG scientists are highly published in peer-reviewed journals and symposium proceedings, have presented invited papers at international meetings, and write large scale reports for governments and NGOs.