Cooke Uruguay has achieved Friend of the Sea certification for the sustainable operations of its deep-sea crab fishery following assessment by external accredited auditing bodies.
Cooke Uruguay also represents one of the leading food processors in South America, with a broad customer base around the world. The company is part of the Canadian-based Cooke Seafood enterprise, which employs 10,000 staff in its highly diversified activities.
Sustainable practice is one of Cooke Uruguay’s primary objectives, providing ethical foundations for its fishing activities. The company applied for Friend of the Sea certification to challenge its current sustainability policies, regulating both its environmental and social responsibility pledges, along with ensuring best practice in treatment of animal welfare and food safety.
‘This commitment to sustainability has materialised with real actions in the management of the fishery, adopting and maintaining the correct execution of measures required by the authorities, promoting good practices beyond the established norms, and advancing towards international standards,’ said Dr. Santiago Díaz, advisor and quality manager at Cooke Uruguay.
‘The company has made progress in supporting scientific research and stock assessments, improving the collection of information from fishing activities and the decision-making process.’
Research conducted by the National Fishery Institute the 80s identified an excess of 22,000 tonnes of harvestable deep sea red crab stocks situated in Uruguay’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), representing the largest identified stock globally.
Cooke Uruguay subsequently launched two vessels to operate in the region, fishing year-round to seize this opportunity. The vessels have been retrofitted with modern facilities able to prepare crabs both cooked and uncooked for readymade distribution, integrating the vertical supply chain and subsequently boosting traceability. The fleet maintains strict adherence to local regulation by not exceeding the TAC.
Cooke Uruguay’s vessels work traps spaced 30 metres apart to fish crabs at depths greater than 500 metres. The depth of fishing also bypasses interference with many venerable species, further reducing the chances of by-catch. Each crab is measured to ensure they meet the nationally regulated carapace width limit, and to ensure absolutely no females are taken.
‘It is imperative that we develop proactive respect and protection of our oceans, to not only to safeguard the longevity of resources we deeply cherish, but to sustain pristine ecosystems for the many species that we share it with,’ said Friend of the Sea founder and director Paolo Bray.
‘For this reason, Friend of the Sea has welcomed the certification of Cooke Uruguay, joining a collective of pro-environmental Friend of the Sea verified fisheries advocating and practising greater care of our ocean.’