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Report denounces aquaculture procurement policies for supermarkets

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Produced by Changing Markets Foundation, Feedback and NGO partners on wade around The report argues that the 33 major European food retailers are failing to address the main challenges of aquaculture sustainability. Although touted as a more environmentally friendly and sustainable form of protein, aquaculture in its current form leads to overfishing of the oceans, food insecurity in southern countries and poor human welfare. Pisces.

Main concerns for sustainability

Supermarkets – thanks to their financial clout and their role as intermediary between consumers and the fish farming industry – should be charged with advancing transformative change in the aquaculture sector by demanding standards of sustainability and higher fish welfare.

However, the report finds that in six European countries, 76 percent of supermarkets display an “almost complete lack of substantive policies” to address the lack of sustainability and transparency in their farmed fish supply chains.

The report notes that no retailer has a clear target for the reduction and phase-out of wild-caught fish in food, although nearly 20 percent of the global marine fish catch – 18 million tonnes in 2018 – be withdrawn from the ocean and converted into fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) to feed farm animals, threatening food security in regions like West Africa and the Pacific coast of the South America.

The report shows that very few retailers are taking positive action to eliminate or reduce the use of wild caught fish in food. French retailer Auchan aims to shift 50 percent of the farmed seafood it sells to foods that contain less or no FMFO, while Tesco has a roadmap on how to accelerate the inclusion of alternative ingredients in animal feed. However, the retail sector as a whole is failing to tackle this critical problem which is having devastating effects on marine biodiversity and communities in some of the poorest regions of the world.

“It is disappointing to see such a lack of leadership among European supermarkets when it comes to eliminating the use of wild fish in aquaculture,” said Nusa Urbancic, director of campaigns at the Changing Markets Foundation. “For years, we have documented the devastating effects of fodder fishing on the oceans and on the food security of vulnerable communities in the Global South. Supermarkets pretend to talk about sustainability in their public statements, but refuse to take meaningful action to remove this damaging practice from their supply chains.

Along with the lack of attention to supply chain sustainability, the report also found that while UK retailers have taken some steps to improve supply chain transparency in recent years, they are failing in their duty. inform customers of the origin of the farmed fish and seafood they sell and none of the retailers report on the composition of feed used in their supply chains. Twenty-seven percent of European retailers do not include the name of the producer or the farm on fish labels, do not require public reports from their suppliers on the composition and origin of the feed used on their farms, and do not appear to have any fish welfare indicators report in place.

Fish welfare issues

The report also highlights significant gaps in fish welfare. Half of retailers do not appear to require any reporting from their suppliers on fish mortality and escapes, while very few retailers have protective measures in place to avoid high mortality rates on the fish farms they claim. supply.

Only Waitrose has detailed procedures in place for suppliers to report on mortality and escape rates and has said it will blacklist farms with high mortality rates if no improvements are forthcoming. . Although Tesco does not have an upper limit on mortality, it told us that in critical situations it would stop sourcing.

The report warns that death rates are hard to come by. However, he points out that on salmon farms in Norway, they stood at 15 percent in 2019, while this figure may be higher in other countries.

Nusa Urbancic said: “Industrial aquaculture causes untold suffering and yet most European retailers are not taking action to improve the welfare of fish in their supply chains. In the UK, salmon farmers plan to double their production by 2030, which will almost certainly lead to deteriorating conditions on farms. Retailers must push their suppliers to cultivate better or face serious reputational consequences. ”

Jessica Sinclair Taylor, Policy and Media Manager at Feedback, said: “Left unchecked, this unsustainable, unsupervised and unfair industry will have irreversible environmental and societal impacts. We call on all major European food retailers to recognize the vital role they can play in tackling the unsustainable nature of the aquaculture sector and to demand a transition to more sustainable fish farming practices.

Positive change required

The report calls on retailers to recognize the role they can play in reducing the devastating impact of the global aquaculture sector, calling for:

  • A commitment to phase out the use of wild-caught fish in aquaculture feed and other farm animal feed by 2025.
  • Introducing strict requirements on how farmed fish and seafood species are raised and slaughtered.
  • Blacklisting fish farms that have consistently high fish mortality rates.
  • Introducing greater transparency for consumers through improved labeling. This relates to the right of customers to know the origin of the farmed fish they buy, the origin and composition of what it has been fed and how it has been raised.

Meanwhile, the report calls on consumers to recognize the role they can play, by:

  • Demand more and pressure from large-scale retailers to improve the transparency of their farmed fish (and wild fish) supply chains.
  • Limit the consumption of seafood, especially farmed carnivorous species (such as salmon or shrimp) which depend on the use of FMFO produced from wild fish.