The Co-operative Group has announced today (7 January) it is backing the campaign to reduce the number of fish discarded in the seas around the UK.
At present, half of all fish caught in the North Sea is being discarded because of the current quota system imposed by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The Co-operative, which applies its own responsible fish sourcing policy to all its own-brand fish, including canned and frozen, and all own-brand products containing fish, such as sandwiches, is supporting the campaign to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.
Sean Toal, the group’s commercial director for food, said: “We want to see an end to this senseless waste, and we are calling on Commissioner Damanaki, the new EU Fisheries Commissioner, members of the European Parliament and state governments to use their influence to stop this unacceptable and shameful practice.”
The Co-operative is already working to reduce discards by supporting the Cumbria Discard Reduction Programme, an innovative project co-ordinated by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).
This project brings together scientists and fishermen to develop solutions to reduce fishery discards. The Co-operative is co-funding the project which will work with the Cumbrian nephrops (scampi) fishery to reduce discards in the Irish Sea in 2011. A similar Cefas project, Project 50%, has already been very successful in reducing discards of the Devon beam-trawl fishery, with discard rates falling by more than 52%.
In 2008, The Co-operative established a £200,000 fund to help UK fisheries complete the Marine Stewardship Council certification process to support a sustainable UK fishing industry. The first of these to receive MSC certification was the North Menai Strait mussel fishery, in November 2010. With support from The Co-operative, nine fisheries are currently under full MSC assessment, and the entire Sussex inshore fishery (including 26 separate fisheries) has completed the MSC pre-assessment, whilst one further fishery is undergoing pre-assessment.
The Co-operative tops the latest Marine Conservation Society (MCS), a UK charity dedicated to the protection of seas, shores and wildlife, league table of supermarkets for supporting and selling sustainably-sourced fish.
And it claims to be the only retailer to have eliminated all fish from the MCS Good Fish Guide’s ‘fish to avoid’ list, and has the largest percentage of sales from the MCS’s ‘fish to eat’ list.