Seven of the UK’s biggest grocery retailers have pledged to clean up the farmed prawn industry four months after Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall exposed the use of unsustainably sourced fish in prawn feed.
In his Channel 4 Fish Fight: Save Our Seas programme in February, Fearnley-Whittingstall accused several UK multiples of selling farmed warmwater prawns from Asia that were fed on unsustainable fishmeal.
At the time, retailers responded individually saying they were already working with suppliers to improve prawn feed sourcing. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, The Co-op, Waitrose and M&S have now, for the first time, publicly pledged to open talks with NGOs and suppliers to improve prawn industry practices in a jointly signed statement.
It calls on fishermen and suppliers to work with retailers to “drive change towards a more sustainable aquaculture industry”.
Retailers had previously engaged with suppliers on the prawn feed issue individually but the BRC’s members realised more comprehensive action was required to ensure responsible sourcing in the future, said Catherine Pazderka, BRC head of sustainability. The BRC set up a Fishmeal Working Group earlier this year which has to date allowed members to discuss the issue internally but next week discussions with other parties will start at a meeting of The Prince’s Charities’ International Sustainability Unit.
Fearnley-Whittingstall urged the retailers to ensure their commitment turned into action. “Now supermarkets and suppliers need to demonstrate change is really happening, and with some urgency.” In February, supporters of his campaign sent 40,000 tweets to the mults, asking them if they knew what was being fed to their farmed prawns.