Sainsbury’s is claiming an industry first by introducing farmed fish that has been certified by the newly formed Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

Two own-label lines of natural (250g) and smoked (240g) river cobbler (also known as basa and pangasius) launched into 150 stores today. A lightly dusted product (260g) will follow next week. All products are priced at £2.25 per pack. Distribution of all three products will increase to 400 stores from 1 May.

The fish has been certified by the ASC from feed mill to final product. “This launch gives us a step towards all our fish being independently certified as sustainable by 2020 as part of our 20x20 Sustainability Plan,” said a spokeswoman. It would also encourage consumers to try alternative species, she added.

Sainsbury’s has not sold river cobbler for a number of years and only sold plain fillets when it was on sale.

River cobbler is a type of fast-growing catfish.

The ASC was set up as a sister organisation to the Marine Stewardship Council to certify farmed fish, which will in future be increasingly required as a food source to feed the rising global population. It was set up in 2010 by WWF and IDH, a Dutch sustainable trade organisation.