In her effort(s) to influence practices toward more sustainability all along the fishing industry value chain, Claire has created a system to capture, foster and build a knowledge base of unbiased scientific arguments. To do so, she mobilizes independent researchers in top universities and independent research centers around the globe. Claire engages them in producing and/or sharing independent and critical studies about fishing industry activities, subsidy systems, practices of distributors and consumers, social and environmental impacts, and so on. Much of this research relies on existing data that is never computed in an unbiased way, which allows reducing their cost. Additionally, all research targets specific and action-oriented issues that are not in the focus of other players in the field, such as deep sea fishing or sharks. This allows for clear messages and non-conflicted information, and enables her to engage stakeholders to act quickly on information; and gives her a base of knowledge to rely on and offer advice and support to industry players.
Focusing on actions that can have a positive and rapid impact on urgent issues, Claire connects and works directly with governments and companies that are open to changing their practices and can make a difference in the field. For example, with the support of solid, independent research of scientists and an organized mobilization of other COs, Claire has contributed to a full reform of deep sea fishing regulation at the European level. Indeed, a vote in March 2013 has opened the way to stop bottom trawlers and other destructive deep sea fishing methods.
In parallel, still relying on scientific proof, Claire denounces those who refuse to act and builds consumer and citizen sector pressure to incentivize them to change. For example, the unsustainable practices of supermarket chains have been one of her major battles. She has notably identified and revealed how a well-known supermarket chain was misleading consumers. While they own the biggest French deep sea fishing fleet and have some of the most devastating practices in the field, and do not meet legal transparency requirements, they had created their own sustainable fishing certification and were greenwashing consumers about the advantages of owning their own fleet, which ensured they knew “where the fish comes from.” With scientific evidence in hand, Claire has launched a campaign demonstrating the impact of these practices on the environment, and has had a deep impact on the chain’s image, leading them to rethink their practices.
More interestingly, this campaign has also had a major influence on the practices of other large retail chains. For example System U, another leading French supermarket chain, has entirely reviewed its fish supply chain strategic plan and postponed the launch of its own sustainability certification when they learned of the risks associated with misleading consumers. As for the market leader Carrefour, they are working hand-in-hand with Claire, with free, unbiased consulting and advice to develop sustainable strategies. While working on the definition of a realistic—thus long-term—transition plan toward a sustainable fishing supply chain, Carrefour has blacklisted threatened underwater species from their shelves.
To give more leverage to her influence on policymakers and business leaders, Claire knows she needs a strong voice and strong allies. She hence organizes large environmental groups with an interest in the marine advocacy field to speak as a unified voice through a unique platform, hosted by the international Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. For each of her battles, she can count on the support of WWF, Greenpeace, the Shark Alliance, and Foundation Nicolas Hulot: together, they are credible enough to bring cases to governments, European institutions or the Tribunal of the Seas. In 2009, during the French Grenelle de la Mer, they have successfully proposed a law to turn 20 percent of French Marine territory into marine protected area (France is the second largest European country in terms of marine territory). Today, the platform is playing a key role in preparing a reform of European laws on abysses (deep sea) fishing; and thanks to Claire’s independent research on the environmental consequences of the current EU fishing subsidy system, they are also influencing its design and proposing alternatives.
Claire also knows the power of consumers in their consumption choices, and of consumer unions, in their ability to influence public opinion, sue large companies and the government. She is hence mobilizing a critical mass of consumers through various channels—raising consumer awareness about marine species through attractive and playful tools (books, exhibitions, and a contest); and informing them with independent data and research in the media, notably through an annual sustainability ranking of supermarkets and fisheries (something she had initially set up in New Zealand). Recently, Claire has embarked on an effort to create a consumer union by recruiting the general public to her cause: when she reaches 10,000 members, she will have an even stronger voice.