15 Jan 2011

Don't buy Princes tuna

I have just managed to see Hugh Fernley Whittingstals' Fish Fight on line at Channel 4 on demand. The programmes are there for a couple of weeks more. The great news is that people have been signing up like mad to the anti-discards petition – at this moment in time we've passed 438,000, which is phenomenal. You can read more on the horrors of discards on Hugh's website and send a letter to your MP here......but in this blog I want to cover the Princes campaign, Salmon farming and chip shops - all of which featured on Hugh's three TV programmes.

Princes tuna

Well Greenpeace have just published their new tinned tuna league table, showing which supermarkets and leading brands are using the most sustainable fishing methods and which ones are responsible for killing sharks and turtles, and possibly even dolphins in their tuna nets - see the picture.

While Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose come out on top, Princes has performed abysmally. Like many I wrote to the company last year about its policies expressing concern at the huge purse seine nets coupled with fish aggregating devices (or Fads) which don't just lure in tuna, but sharks, turtles and other fish as well.

It seems before the table was even published, the Greenpeace tuna league table has produced results. Greenpeace write: "Tesco got wind it had come last and made a rapid u-turn from its previous statements. It announced that, by the end of 2012, it aims to get 100 per cent of Tesco tinned tuna caught by pole and line, the most sustainable tuna fishing method. Of course, Tesco needs to make good on this promise but it was enough to move it from the bottom of the league table, leaving Princes with the wooden fish knife."

Greenpeace have just managed to force Princes to change the labels on its tins, which falsely claimed that the company is "fully committed to fishing methods which protect the marine environment and marine life". Now we need to get it to improve its fishing methods too. Email Princes here and tell them to change their tuna. Well done Hugh and Greenpeace for campaigning on this.

Salmon farming

The murky world of fishmeal production and how it is used by Scottish salmon farms was exposed in the Fishfight films. Some of those issues have been discussed previously on this blog - ex-Nailsworth resident Jimmie Hepburn has taught me lots on this - and I have also visited his challenge to consumers and producers - organic carp. See here re the UK's first organic carp farm.

Photo: Talking to Jimmie Hepburn as we walk around the fish farm

The Ecologist magazine has also highlighted the problems - see here article and Ecologist Youtube - previously they went to Peru, the world’s leading exporter, supplying 28 per cent of the UK’s fishmeal, and documented a host of unreported environmental and social costs – including pollution and health problems, overfishing, and impacts on ecosystems and wildlife - all arising from the production of fishmeal and fish oil, principal ingredients in farmed salmon feed.

They write: "Salmon production requires huge amounts of fishmeal - an estimated 4kg of wild fish is needed for every 1kg of farmed fish produced. However, the ecological impacts of fishmeal production and the consequences for communities who are losing sources of fish for themselves, has left many to question whether it is sustainable."

Hugh offered shoppers at a Bournemouth shopping centre 300g of small oily fish in return for any 100g of salmon in their basket to highlight the fact it takes 3kg of small fish to produce 1kg of farmed salmon and not a single person had turned him down. As he said: "It shows that when the public realise what's at stake they may be prepared to make some different choices." If you eat farmed salmon, try to buy organic farmed salmon because the feed is comprised of trimmings from fish that has been processed for food, thus has a lower impact on the wild fish stocks.

Fish 'n' Chip shops

Lastly if you missed the programme - one of the aims was to get mackerel on the menu in Fish and Chip shops across the UK. By offering a more sustainable alternative to the habitual favourite Cod and Chips you will be helping to save our fish. See here. Anyone for a campaign here with Stroud chippies? Stroud is not yet on the map - see here.

Well done all for highlighting this issue - now we need to keep momentum up to create the changes needed. See also blog here re GM Salmon and here re Marine Bill.

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