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ASDA bows to pressure over fish supplies

30th January 2006

Supermarket ASDA has promised to improve the sustainability of its fish supplies after coming lowest in a list of supermarkets rated for their fisheries policies.

In the last edition of the Food Magazine, we warned of the need to control and police our exploitation of fish stocks. Following this a survey by the environmental campaign group Greenpeace revealed which of the retailers were selling fish from endangered or 'at risk' sources. The survey highlighted ASDA as the 'worst of the bunch', with Marks & Spencer and Waitrose top of the scorecard due to their having implemented sustainable seafood policies.

Greenpeace campaigner Oliver Knowles commented that, 'ASDA did worse than we'd thought possible, and they fully deserve their bottom-drawer ranking. They stock at least 13 species of threatened fish and have no public policy on the sustainability of the fish they sell.'

In response, ASDA (rather bizarrely) stated that 'Greenpeace tell consumers to stop eating fish and replace it with walnuts. Our customers don't want nut-fingers and chips for their tea.' However, following rooftop demonstrations by Greenpeace activists and fishmongers at ASDA headquarters, the company changed its tune, and organised a hasty top-level meeting with the campaigners.

As we go to press ASDA have promised Greenpeace a review of their policies and an immediate withdrawal from sale of four species - ling, huss, skate and Dover sole.

The most destructively fished (Marine Conservation Society grade 5 or equivalent) seafood species or groups sold by each UK supermarket
Supermarket
Seafood species or group
Total
ASDA
Cod (Atlantic), dogfish, Dover sole, haddock, hake (European), ling, lumpfish, marlin, monkfish, plaice, skate, swordfish, tuna
13
Co-op
Cod (Atlantic), dogfish, Dover sole, haddock, hake (European), halibut (Atlantic), monkfish, plaice, skate, tuna
10
Iceland
Cod (Atlantic), haddock, plaice, tuna
4
M&S A
rrow squid, Dover sole, monkfish, plaice, tuna
5
Safeway/Morrisons
Cod (Atlantic), conger, dogfish, Dover sole, haddock, halibut (Atlantic), grey mullet, monkfish, plaice, skate, snapper, swordfish, tuna
13
Sainsbury's
Cod (Atlantic), dogfish, Dover sole, haddock, lumpfish, marlin, monkfish, plaice, skate, snapper, swordfish, turbot, tuna
13
Somerfield
Cod (Atlantic), Dover sole, haddock, plaice, monkfish, skate, swordfish, tuna
8
Tesco
Cod (Atlantic), dogfish, Dover sole, eel, haddock, hake (European), lumpfish, monkfish, plaice, skate, tuna
11
Waitrose
Arrow squid, Dover sole, lumpfish, monkfish, New Zealand deep-sea cod, skate
6
NB: Tuna includes all species except skipjack

Useful resources

For information about fish sustainability, see the MCS Fish Online website at www.fishonline.org

To check which fish to avoid see www.fishonline.org/advice/avoid

Fish that are considered by the MCS okay to eat are listed at www.fishonline.org/advice/eat

Table from: 'A recipe for disaster: Supermarkets' insatiable appetite for seafood', Greenpeace, 2005