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10/31/2013 09:10 am ET | Updated Oct 31, 2013

Partnership Aims To Make Your Fish Sticks More Sustainable

Teak Media and Communication

Chances are, you've eaten a Gorton's fish stick at some point in your life. And now, thanks to a partnership with the New England Aquarium, the chance that the fish in that stick was sustainably fished is much higher.

Gorton's is the largest seller of frozen seafood in the U.S. Five years ago, the company undertook a partnership with the New England Aquarium to look at shifting their suppliers toward sustainable fishing practices. The focus was on increasing the portion of supply from fisheries that meet the certification standards of the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

"We realized what an important component of our business sustainability was," said Lisa Webb, vice president of supply chain at Gorton's. "We started with an assessment of all the seafood species we procure, taking a deep dive into the impact we're having on future generations, the impact on water."

While the aquarium had partnered with restaurants and grocers before, the Gorton's relationship is an expansion of its corporate partnerships, said Heather Tausig, vice president of conservation at the aquarium. "We're thinking about how to affect change on the waters by working with large buyers of seafood," Tausig said. "It has been really beneficial for us to learn from different companies at different places in supply chain."

Through the five-year partnership, the company reports that it has moved from sourcing 64 percent of its products from certified fisheries to 97 percent. Gorton's declined to give an estimate of how many pounds or dollars of seafood it sells per year, but Webb, as an example, said that the company is one of the largest buyers of Alaskan pollock in the world, and that they believe that the moves will have a "significant impact on that industry."

"It's all about preserving the resources for future generations," Webb said. "That's our livelihood. It's fishermen's livelihood to make sure seafood is abundant."

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