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UK supermarkets failing in fish sustainability according to new report. UK shoppers are unknowingly consuming 2.5 x more fish than they think, according to a new report which ranks the top ten UK supermarkets according to the sustainability of the farmed seafood that they sell.

‘Caught Out’, by the Changing Markets Foundation and Feedback, reveals that UK supermarkets are failing in their responsibility to protect our oceans, as seven out of the ten supermarkets received less than 30% on the fish feed sustainability scorecard, with ALDI finishing bottom of the list on 12%, Waitrose receiving just 22% and only Tesco achieving a score over 50%.

The report also found that UK shoppers indirectly and unknowingly consumed 177,000 tonnes of wild fish in 2019 by eating the top six farmed fish species including salmon and prawns, which are fed on fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO). That equates to a ‘hidden’ 172g of wild fish consumed for every 100g of farmed fish eaten, almost all of which could have been eaten directly by people.

The reports states that these farmed seafood products are contributing to the collapse of wild fish stocks and taking a key source of protein away from some of the world’s poorest communities. That’s due to the aquaculture industry’s reliance on FMFO for fish feed, as revealed by Changing Markets’ in ‘Fishing For Catastrophe’. That report found links between illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in India, Vietnam and The Gambia and farmed fish and seafood products sold by UK retailers.

With most UK seafood purchased in supermarkets,4 and 70% of shoppers keen to buy sustainable fish, retailers have a duty to lead the way on ocean stewardship, says the report; however, ‘Caught Out’ has found that UK supermarkets are failing in this responsibility.

Jessica Sinclair Taylor from Feedback said:  “Supermarkets have enormous power over supplier standards and the choices their customers make, and seafood selection is no different.

“By prominently marketing farmed seafood like salmon and prawns which are fed on wild fish and crustaceans, retailers are promoting an extractive industry which is threatening the long-term health of our oceans.

“Behind the blue planet rhetoric, supermarkets need to get real about the impact of aquaculture, and commit to targets to end the use of wild fish in aquaculture feed.”

Natasha Hurley from Changing Markets, said: “UK supermarkets make bold claims about the sustainability of the farmed fish that they sell, however, our research has found that these claims are not backed up by the reality of how their farmed fish is produced.

“Our investigations have shown that the UK’s leading retailers are linked to highly destructive fishing practices in Africa and Southeast Asia which are devastating marine ecosystems and depriving people of food.

“UK shoppers will be shocked to learn that for every 100g of farmed fish they are eating, they are consuming more than 172g of wild fish as well, which is taking food away from vulnerable communities and causing disastrous environmental impacts.

“By turning a blind eye to this, retailers are both failing in their responsibility to preserve the oceans and misleading their customers by hiding the true impact of their products.”