Sir; As a consultant to the fish sector in the UK, I would like to make a few points on the Saturday Essay (February 14).
Helen Lo’s comments on CSR and the fish sector ably demonstrate the need for real honesty with the end consumer by all parties involved in the supply of fish. While it is laudable that Unilever and other companies are doing sterling work in supporting sustainable fishing and schemes such as the Marine Stewardship Council’s, it immediately begs the question - why do we need these efforts?
If consumers were aware of the actual facts affecting global fish stocks, the effects of certain fishing methods on the marine environment and the shortcomings in some farming techniques, then surely this consumer push for change would have more of an impact than the Utopian panacea that Lo ponders upon?
It is my belief that not telling consumers that it takes four tonnes of industrial fish to produce one tonne of salmon or that some forms of fishing are immensly destructive to the marine ecology, is just storing up trouble for when these facts generally become known. With every improvement that comes along, there must have been an opposing position prior to it.
The really brave form of CSR would be to acknowledge any shortcomings in your offer and explain how you plan to overcome them even if you have to admit some cannot be done alone, as Lo states.
For a CSR to really work, you need to shout about why you need one and the fact is that this can sometimes be at odds with the profit motive.
Would any retail fish buyers care to comment?