Fearnley-Whittingstall-backed report claims to link UK retail to IUU, via aquafeed

Date: October 15, 2019

Source: Undercurrent News

A new report mapping fishmeal and oil supplies claims to reveal links between the UK’s biggest supermarkets and unsustainable fishing in India, Vietnam, and The Gambia.

The report — “Fishing for Catastrophe”, published today by Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation (CMF) — claims to have found links between retailers and illegal, unsustainable fishing operations in countries that supply feed ingredients for farmed seafood products in high-income markets.

This is the first investigation to comprehensively map fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) supply chains from fishery to fork, said CMF.

The report has been backed by a familiar face to the UK seafood industry; television chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“I saw for myself while making my Fish Fight programs that fishmeal for the aquaculture industry – producing UK supermarket favorites like prawns and salmon – is being sourced in a way that is devastating to the marine environment, and to the wild fish stocks that make up much of the feed,” he said.

“It’s increasingly clear that even products certified as sustainably produced are based on aquaculture that is sourcing fishmeal in deeply irresponsible ways. The bottom line is that we need to stop taking wild fish out of the ocean to feed farmed fish, before it’s too late.”

The report claims that supermarkets including Tesco, J. Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer, LIDL, ALDI, Asda, Iceland, Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Waitrose & Partners, and The Co-Operative sell farmed seafood products, including salmon and shrimp, which are causing fish stocks to collapse and taking a key source of protein away from some of the world’s poorest communities, due to the aquaculture industry’s reliance on FMFO for fish feed.

“Many farmed-fish products, including Scottish salmon, are labeled as certified sustainable despite the damaging impact of the FMFO industry on marine ecosystems,” it claimed.

The investigation also found that while retailers take assurances from FMFO trade body the Marine Ingredients Organisation, or IFFO, about supply chain sustainability at face value, “dozens of IFFO members and certified companies are linked to unsustainable and illegal fishing practices”.

“The boom in aquaculture, to match the global demand for premium seafood products such as salmon, is fuelling illegal and unsustainable fishing practices which are stripping the oceans bare,” said Natasha Hurley from CMF.

“Climate change is already destabilizing our food system and that’s being exacerbated by the FMFO industry, which will take anything and everything out of the ocean to meet demand from the growing aquaculture industry.”

These practices not only damage marine ecosystems, but also cause huge social issues, as communities that have been reliant on the ocean for food for generations are having their livelihoods destroyed and their access to a vital source of protein undermined, she added.

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