United States

Maine Business Becomes First Fair Trade Seafood Company in United States

A Maine business is making waves in the seafood industry, becoming the first U.S. seafood company to get "fair trade" certified. 

Bristol Seafood in Portland, Maine, has received the certificate from Fair Trade USA for its scallops. 

"[Consumers] are asking to know more about the food they're eating, and we're lucky to be in a position to tell them," said Bristol CEO Peter Handy. 

Fair Trade means the product was harvested with sustainable methods, and that everyone involved in the supply chain was paid a fair wage. 

"There's no slave labor, no child labor or forced labor, there's a protection of wages and safe working conditions," explained Ashley Apel, Fair Trade Fisheries Program Manager for Fair Trade USA. 

Apel said Fair Trade USA makes business go through a rigorous audit before giving them the certification. 

Handy said more than 65 of his employees and people involved in the scallop supply chain were interviewed - everyone from captains and deckhands, to truckers and line workers. 

He said it took time and resources to get the Fair Trade label, but wanted to be able to give consumers confidence in their product after a 2015 investigation by the Associated Press revealed slave labor used in Asia and Hawaii to bring some fish to U.S. markets. 

"I think consumers are really the pioneers here," said Handy. "They're asking to know more about the food they're eating. and we're lucky to be in a position to be able to tell them." 

Bristol Seafood's Fair Trade scallops will be available at Hannaford Supermarkets in May.

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