A review of biodiversity reporting by the South African seafood industry14 July 2020
Background: Biodiversity reporting is an area of sustainability accounting research that has received comparatively little attention from the academic community. This is despite the growing scientific concern about climate change, habitat destruction and extinction of species and mounting evidence on the implications of these environmental issues for our current way of life. This necessitates additional research on biodiversity reporting, especially in a South African context given that the country is home to some of the richest biodiversity regions on earth. Aim: This research examines what information companies in the South African seafood industry are reporting on biodiversity. This includes the development and application of an easy-to-use disclosure scorecard to track the quality of biodiversity-related disclosures. Setting: The study focuses on South African biodiversity reporting. The choice of region is informed by the country’s significant marine resources and mature corporate reporting environment, where non-financial disclosures are expected to be well developed. Methods: Content analysis was used to collect data from a sample of companies’ integrated and sustainability reports. The data were analysed interpretively to determine what biodiversity disclosures companies provide and the quality of those disclosures. Conclusion: The study shows that while the quantum of biodiversity reporting is relatively low, some companies are starting to provide more detailed accounts of their biodiversity impact, pointing to higher levels of reporting quality. There is still room for improvement, but these findings suggest that reporting on non-financial sustainability issues is maturing and that companies are beginning to appreciate the importance of preserving biodiversity for ensuring long-term sustainability. © 2018. The Authors.