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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Supermarket chain launches fish traffic light scheme
The supermarket group J Sainsbury has joined the list of giant UK retailers supporting fish sustainability - with a novel scheme of their own.
The company is reported to be ready to adopt a traffic light scheme on all its fresh fish products to tell customers that buying them will not harm stocks.
A green, amber or red tag will be used to indicate the scarcity or over supply level of a particular kind of fish and whether any of them are endangered species.
Sainsbury's sources much of its fish from supplies on both banks of the Humber and their big sellers in store are Icelandic or Norwegian caught cod, and haddock, along with prawns and farmed salmon- off of which should carry a green tag.
The supermarket group has said it will only display green or amber-fish from later this year which could cost it over £1-million in lost sales of other species. To avoid confusion with a separate traffic-light scheme it uses to warn shoppers about the nutritional value of their purchases, the colour coding will appear on its website and on its fish counters rather than on the front of its packaging.
The environmental group Greenpeace, which yesterday criticised Unilever claiming that some fish used by Birds Eye could be illegally caught in the Baltic. has welcomed the move and said other supermarket groups should follow Sainsbury's example.
Both Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have adopted an ethical policy saying they only purchase fish from sustainable sources, usually Icelandic or Norwegian cod and haddock. And Young's have ordered their buyers not to purchase fish from trawlers that operate illegally and have linked up to a Norwegian coastguard black list of vessels to avoid such a possibility. And yesterday Wal-Mart which owns the Asda group in the UK and which is world's biggest retailer, has just launched a programme to encourage and promote the sustainability of fisheries, forests and farmlands, as well as economising on energy use and reducing waste, in a bid to persuade its customers to go green.
Sainsbury's is thought to have devised the sector's most rigorous checklist to help it determine whether it was buying fish from sustainable sources. It came up with its new scheme after it had to drop its goal of selling only fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, the pressure group, by 2010 because it realised that not enough fisheries would carry the requisite certification in time.
Earlier this month, the National Consumer Council criticised supermarkets for not making it easier for shoppers to buy sustainable fish. The issue has become one of the hot topics in the battle to be Britain's "greenest" grocer.
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