Asda lands world’s first sustainable seafood report

Fresh from reporting on the wide-ranging impacts of climate change on its supply chain, Asda has achieved a 'global first' by giving a full disclosure on how and where it sources its fish.

In response to growing concerns from customers, the retail giant has become the first of its kind to publish a comprehensive report of all of the fisheries that supply the company with wild fish, along with detailed information about management and sustainability.

Asda’s sustainability director Chris Brown said: “Our shoppers want to know where the wild fish they buy from our stores comes from and how it is caught and that’s why we have released this information. We have worked in partnership with SFP for many years to ensure we have an independent voice assessing our fish sourcing and guiding us toward a sustainable fisheries management programme.

“We are proud of our achievements to date but we accept that we have further work to do on some areas.”

The report – Asda Wild Fisheries Annual Review 2013 – was produced in collaboration with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). It covers all source fisheries used by Asda between January 1 and 31 December 2013. This is coupled with an assessment of the sustainability of each fishery.
It will become an annual publication and allow the public to judge Asda on its track record for sustainable seafood as well as finding out more about individual species.

Mixed picture

Welcoming the report, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – who has campaigned for more transparency from supermarkets on seafood sourcing – said: “I applaud this step by Asda to be transparent about all the wild seafood that has their name on it.

“It shows a mixed picture: over a third of the fisheries are certified sustainable, but several of them – like those for dredged scallops and rays – remain a real cause for concern, environmentally. But it is refreshing to have this sort of openness from one of our biggest fishmongers.

“The next steps must be to improve or find alternatives to the fisheries with the biggest problems, and to make this data accessible to their customers in a way that can guide their choices in the shop. That means clearer labels with the information that shoppers need to help them choose sustainable fish.”

Asda has accepted that some fisheries still need work. The supermarket chain has pledged that all ambient canned and pouched tuna will be either line-caught or caught using FAD-free methods by the end of 2014. This annual assessment does not yet cover seafood from aquaculture (fish farming) but it is hoped this information will be included in the next report in 2015.

Last month, edie reported that climate change is having a direct impact on 95% of fresh produce stocked in Asda stores, with food sourcing, processing and transportation all facing an growing threat from environmental issues. Read more here.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie