Top fish supermarkets named by conservation campaigners
December 12 2011 Lewis Smith
Smoked salmon from the Co-op
Marks & Spencer and the Co-operative are the best supermarkets for providing customers with sustainable fish, the Marine Conservation Society has said.
The two supermarkets set the gold standard for the fish they sell and the policies they follow to ensure they are not causing long term damage to the marine environment.
Sainsbury and Waitrose shared a silver medal spot in the survey conducted by the MCS after impressing the judges with their approach to buying seafood.
Other leading supermarkets, however, were urged to take urgent action to improve their record on the fish they sell. Morrison’s, Tesco, Iceland and Booth’s were all praised for making efforts to use fish from sustainable sources and to follow marine-friendly policies but all fell short of the MCS’s bronze standard.
Asda, Lidl, Budgens, Farmfoods, Spar and Aldi were all criticised for not returning the survey form sent to them.
David Parker, MCS Fisheries Officer, said: “The 2011 survey has thrown up both positives and negatives. Some supermarkets are really working on their seafood polices with a positive attitude towards improvement – although most policies disappointingly only refer to their own brands. Many supermarkets are working hard on their farmed and wild caught fish sourcing.
“However, labelling continues to be a stumbling block for almost all retailers, and that’s an area we hope to be able to work with more supermarkets on as it’s key to consumers making the right decision.”
In the citations for the gold medal winners the Co-op, which does not sell any of the species on the MCS fish to avoid list, was described as “a great choice for buying sustainable seafood”.
Sean Toal, acting chief executive of the Co-op, said: “To top the Marine Conservation Society Supermarket Survey demonstrates our commitment to responsible sourcing and sustainable seafood. Our Responsible Fish Sourcing Policy, engagement in seafood sustainability initiatives and the work we have done to eliminate ‘Fish to avoid’ identified by MCS scored particularly highly.
M&S was commended for having the best seafood policy and the supermarket was described by the MCS as “a great option for consumers when shopping for sustainable seafood”.
What the MCS said
M&S: Good percentage of species on fish to eat list, impressive record on influencing industry to be more sustainable. Needs to improve labelling.
Co-op: Good on sustainability initiatives, good policy and does not sell species on the fish to avoid list. Needs to widen policy to cover all fish, not just own-brand.
Sainsbury: Has the best policy on farmed fish and is extremely good on taking the initiative on sustainable fish. Needs to take some struggling fish species off its counters.
Waitrose: Keeps species on the MCS fish to avoid list off its shelves and has the best policy on wild capture. Needs better labelling and to widen policy to cover all fish, not just own-brand.
Tesco: More than half of fish on offer are on the MCS’s fish to eat list. Has worked hard to improve record on sustainability. But has a high proportion of species on the fish to avoid list.
Iceland: Has a good proportion of species from the MCS fish to eat list and low sales of the fish to avoid. But the aquaculture policy needs improving.
Morrisons: Has the best labelling and a good proportion of species are on the MCS’s fish to eat list. Needs to engage in sustainability initiatives and to improve its farmed fish policy.
Booth’s: Provides a good proportion of species from the fish to eat list and does not stock those on the fish to avoid list. Needs to engage in sustainability initiatives and to improve its seafood policy.
For further details click here to see the MCS report.
For the MCS fish guide app click here.
The MCS offers guidance based on scientific analysis on which species of fish are in trouble and those that can be fished at sustainable levels. Fish2fork uses the MCS advice in its restaurant ratings.
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