New Sustainable Seafood Coalition formed in the UK

The newly formed Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) has been launched by businesses selling seafood that are frustrated by the lack of progress on the issue of discarding.

They are equally frustrated that the issue of collecting adequate data needed to manage fish stocks to help the UK’s seafood market become more sustainable has not yet been resolved. 

The first members of the SSC include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, The Co-operative, Birds Eye, the Icelandic Group, Young’s Seafood Limited (and parent company Findus Group) andFish4ever, and have been brought together by environmental law organisation ClientEarth.

Members of the organisation do not want to wait for legislative reform on these issues so have voluntarily decided to sell seafood that is currently underutilised or discarded and to encourage consumers to eat a wider variety of sustainable seafood.

They will also ask their source fisheries to collect catch and discard information aiding government to assess the state of these stocks; to implement measures that will help protect these stocks (where management measures do not already exist); and to agree labelling standards to provide consumers with accurate information on sustainability.

The majority of UK consumers eat mostly five different species of fish; salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and prawns, placing unsustainable pressure on just a few species. There are many high quality fish and shellfish caught in UK waters, which are discarded, with over half discarded because they have no market. The SSC aims to help the development of a sustainable market for the use of such species.

James Thornton, ClientEarth CEO, said: “The crises facing UK and EU fisheries are ever-present and worsening. The legislative tools move slower than the problems escalate and we cannot afford to wait. This is why members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition are taking matters into their own hands. It is heartening to see industry organisations taking a lead.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose recent Fish Fight campaign and TV series highlighted the problem of discarding fish on a huge scale in the North Sea, said: “If we’re going to sort out the discards disgrace, everyone in the business of selling fish needs to play their part. FishFight helped to amplify a clear message from ordinary people that they want to eat more sustainable fish. The Sustainable Seafood Coalition is about giving more people access to sustainable fish and I’m proud to be involved.” Fearnley-Whittingstall also confirmed that The River Cottage Canteen restaurants would be one of the first restaurant groups to join the scheme.

The membership of the Coalition is set to expand to include further seafood retailers, restaurants, celebrity chefs and other foodservice businesses, but also fishmeal and pet food processors and manufacturers, as well as environmental organisations.

The first meeting of the group will be held on 12 May in London.

Source: ICSF at

http://www.icsf.net/icsf2006/ControllerServlet?handler=EXTERNALNEWS&code=getDetails&id=46020

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