Luxury retailer deletes wild-caught seabass

Published on
December 14, 2015

The operator of the fresh fish concession in the food hall of Selfridges & Co.’s London Oxford Street store has announced it will no longer be selling wild-caught seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) due to the strong concerns about the stock status in all fisheries.

In a statement, Southbank Fresh Fish, which was appointed the iconic store’s seafood supplier in 2014, cited the recent evaluation and downgrading of all wild-caught seabass by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) on its FishOnline guide as one of the main reasons for the move. All wild-caught seabass now appear on MCS’s “Fish to Avoid” list – its lowest (red) rating.

Southbank points out that MCS’s rating does not mean it’s currently illegal to catch or sell wild seabass, but that it strongly advises consumers not to purchase the fish as an ethical choice to protect the stocks.

It added that the concession and its team have a strong ethical commitment to offer only sustainable seafood rated only MCS 1-4 to its customers, and that Selfridges  , in conjunction with the MCS, also has the same commitment to all those customers that shop or dine in store.

“With the re-classification of wild seabass to ‘red rated 5 Fish to Avoid’ this product will no longer be available to purchase from Southbank Seafood Concession in the Selfridges Food Hall as of immediate effect. As an alternative, we will be offering farmed seabass until the wild fishery issues are resolved. We cannot give a timescale and it could possibly be a number of years,” said the statement.

With EU fisheries scientists identifying a need to drastically reduce Europe’s wild bass catch, a number of regulations have been imposed on fishermen this year, such as new closed fishing areas, reduced limits on the amount that commercial fishing boats are allowed to catch and an increased minimum landing size (MLS) of 42cm for the northern stock (up from 36cm).

Further measures are expected in 2016, including a similar MLS increase for the two southern stocks of seabass in Iberian waters and the Bay of Biscay.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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