IFF - International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.

06/08/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/08/2021 10:37

The Science & Creativity of Sustainable Seaweed

At the core of the RSP's continuous improvement process is a comprehensive set of 'Environmental & Social Good Practices for Seaweed Harvesting' ('the Practices') that include a variety of key sustainability criteria, from the protection of coral reefs and limiting shading on sea grasses to worker safety. The Practices were developed in partnership with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium (ACCOL) - a cutting-edge marine research institution in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. - as well as with an independent advisory group of subject matter experts. ACCOL also evaluates the performance of seaweed harvest areas. ACCOL conducts second-party evaluation against the Practices and provides support for improvement paths forward. The criteria are periodically reviewed to reflect the latest science and incorporate lessons learned from the implementation of the RSP.

'The partnership between the Anderson Cabot Center, IFF and IFF's harvest areas in the program has been both rewarding and impactful, as we work together to embrace science-based solutions for continuous improvement, both as it relates to responsible seaweed harvesting as well as to broader ecosystem health and marine biodiversity,' says Matt Thompson, Project Lead at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. 'IFF harvest areas are increasingly adopting the Practices; for example, a key harvest area has introduced a system to record any unintended catch of marine life in addition to the seaweed, which helps reinforce evidence that the gear used has minimal impacts.'

We have also started to share these Practices with our upstream seaweed farmers to engage them in capacity building and training opportunities, including providing guidance on plastic waste management. In 2019, more than 100 seaweed farmers in Indonesia were trained using these environmental and social criteria. We also promote opportunities to bring in new recruits and explain how families can make a living as seaweed farmers.

'The most rewarding thing to see is how people's lives have improved since they've joined this industry,' says Erick Ask, Seaweed Technology Guardian at IFF. 'People protect what they love, and because their livelihoods depend on it, farmers take an active role in conservation while raising awareness about the health and cleanliness of the ocean in their own communities.'