New coalition set on eliminating discards


Steven Hedlund

Published on
April 17, 2011

A number of major seafood suppliers, retailers and organizations in the United Kingdom on Monday joined the newly formed Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) to bring an end to the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea.

Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, The Co-operative, Birds Eye, Icelandic Group, Young’s Seafood and the Fish4ever campaign are the original members of the SSC, brought together by environmental law organization ClientEart. The coalition is endorsed by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his Fish Fight initiative, which included a TV series that aired on the BBC in January highlighting the problem of discards.

SSC members said they will not wait for legislative reform to address the problem of discards; they said they will promote species that are underutilized or discarded to influence consumers to eat a wider variety of sustainable seafood. Additionally, they will ask fisheries to collect catch and discard information to aid government in assessing the state of at-risk fish stocks and set labeling standards to provide consumers with accurate information on sustainability.

“If we’re going to sort out the discards disgrace, everyone in the business of selling fish needs to play their part,” said Fearnley-Whittingstall, adding that the River Cottage Canteen will be one of the first set of restaurants to join the SCC. “Fish Fight 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.” Hugh also confirmed that.

“Many of the fish that are discarded are tasty and nutritious, but many consumers simply don’t know these species yet.  We have campaigned on discards for many years and are actively working to inspire consumers to try a wider variety of fish through our Fish for Life program.  As part of the Coalition, we hope to use our fish expertise and experience to drive further change and improvement through the industry as a whole,” said Mike Mitchell, CSR director for Young’s Seafood.

Added Jeremy Ryland Langley, specialist fish buyer for Waitrose: “We believe it's imperative to work collectively on this issue. Protecting the World's fish stocks whilst ensuring a sustainable supply of fish for future generations is one of our biggest environmental challenges and it’s much too important to be left to the law of supply and demand to sort it out.”

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