The Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested brand provides consumers with an easy way to identify Gulf of Maine seafood that meets science-based criteria around responsible harvest. But for dealers, joining the cooperative branding effort means much more than just putting a label on their seafood.
Licensed dealers commit to yearly goals focused on what we call “continuous improvement” of their business’ overall sustainability. Since joining the program, dealers have engaged in projects such as reducing energy usage by upgrading cooling and lighting systems, investing in equipment for composting fish waste from processing, using biodegradable plastics for packaging, and improving their processing systems to reduce water usage.
Sanders Lobster Company, a licensed dealer in Portsmouth, NH, is a third-generation, family-owned business. Two years ago, they set the goal to reduce their waste by finding a recyclable alternative to the wax-coated boxes they traditionally used for shipping live lobsters. Wax-coated boxes hold up well to carrying wet lobsters, but they are not recyclable and typically end up in a landfill after a single use.
By working closely with their packaging supplier, Sanders tested multiple iterations of a biodegradable, recyclable box made of 100% recycled cardboard. Over the course of more than a year, Sanders piloted the boxes and continued working with their supplier to make further improvements. The new boxes are now in regular use, and Sanders estimated that 40,000 pounds of waste was diverted from landfills with the first 25,000 boxes shipped.
Look for the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested brand next time you’re shopping for seafood at Hannaford, Shaw’s, or Big Y. Under each label, you’ll find seafood you can feel good about. Behind each label, you’ll find a licensed dealer working hard to increase the overall sustainability of their industry.