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Asda tells customers where and how it sources wild fish

Supermarkets: Asda

Fresh fish and meat section at Asda supermarket, Waterlooville, Hampshire, UK. Photograph: Peter E Noyce /Alamy


Powered by article titled “Asda tells customers where and how it sources wild fish” was written by Felicity Lawrence, for on Friday 4th July 2014 11.29 UTC

The supermarket Asda has for the first time disclosed a full list of where and how all the wild fish it sells are caught in response to concerns over the sustainability of fish stocks around the world.

Campaigners who have been fighting for greater openness from retailers welcomed the move.

The Asda list, which will be on its website and annually updated, gives the names of each fishery from which stock is sourced, as well as detailed information about the methods used to catch it and any concerns about environmental impact. It acknowledges that some fish are sourced from fisheries or stocks that are under threat or by methods which damage the seabed.

Of the 64 fisheries from which the retailer sourced wild seafood in 2013, 24 have been certified as fully sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, with a further four in MSC assessment and a further 10 being part of clear plans to improve their sustainability. However 13 fisheries used by Asda either need to see significant improvements in their management to be sustainable or have not been assessed, according to the charity Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, which has drawn up the database for the company.

Greenpeace, which has campaigned on saving fish stocks, nevertheless welcomed Asda’s decision to disclose all its fisheries information. Hugh Fearnley-Whittigstall, whose Fish Fight campaign has criticised big retailers for not doing enough to protect fish stocks, also said it was “refreshing” to see a big supermarket group being transparent. “It shows a mixed picture, over a third of the fisheries are certified sustainable but several of them, like those for dredged scallops and rays, remain a real cause for concern environmentally,” the TV chef said. He called for supermarkets including Asda to label all fish more clearly so that consumers could see in the shop which were sustainable.

Fisheries requiring significant improvement or assessment from which Asda still buys are: two Atlantic mackerel fisheries that were subject of an international dispute over quotas last year and the fisheries for the East Scotland crab, European plaice, European sprat, Norway lobster, rays and skates, yellowfin tuna from the Indian ocean, Great Atlantic and Isle of Man scallop, common sole and squid from the Western Channel, haddock from the Barents Sea haddock and European hake.

Information on farmed fish and the source of fishmeal used to feed them is not yet included in the database, nor are labour standards which have been the subject of controversy.

Asda’s director of sustainable business Christopher Brown said he hoped the disclosures would be extended to aquaculture next year. “Transparency is the right way forward so that if customers want to investigate they can. But stewardship of natural resources is also our responsibility as a large organisation, it’s not just a question of labelling and leaving it for consumers to decide,” he said. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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