Cod taken off the shelves at Asda to preserve stocks
Asda, Britain's second biggest supermarket, is removing North Sea cod from its shelves in response to the dramatic collapse of natural fish stocks.
In a sign of how overfishing has devastated the once-plentiful cod off Britain's coast, the supermarket said that it would suspend sale of North Sea cod by July. It said the move had been influenced by attacks from environmentalists for its sale of endangered fish such as cod, which is heading towards commercial extinction in the waters off Britain.
Greenpeace demonstrators scaled the roof of Asda's Leeds headquarters in January and unfurled a banner that read: "Will stocks last?" while the Marine Conservation Society ranked the store bottom for sustainable fish sales. In a self-declared conversion to environmentalism that includes selling sustainable hardwood and raising prices to dairy farmers, Asda said that as well as suspending North Sea cod, it would cease the sale of swordfish, which is also endangered.
The chain said that it intended to follow its parent company Walmart within five years by selling only fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, the London body which checks global fisheries for sustainability and legality. The move could make Asda among the most ethical supermarkets for fish - a distinction currently held by Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.
But Asda went one step further by suggesting that the whole of the North Sea should be turned into a marine conservation zone with commercial fishing limited to local boats to protect it from overfishing.
Green groups welcomed the supermarket's commitment, which they said highlighted how the ravaging of the seas was rising up the agenda of UK shopkeepers and consumers, who spend £1.8bn a year on fish. Overfishing has decimated stocks of cod, skate, monkfish, hake any many other species, resulting in the estimated loss of 90 per cent of the world's big fish such as tuna, swordfish and marlin.
Cod's global decline has been particularly stark. Stocks off Newfoundland, Canada, collapsed in the early 1990s and have not recovered, in a grim portent of what night happen in the North Sea. Historically, cod have teemed off British shores - fishermen from Scotland and the east of England were helping to land 300,000 tons a year in the 1970s and 1980s. But, for the past four years, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas - the scientific body which advises the EU on its common fisheries policy - has urged all cod fishing in the North Sea to stop.
Politicians in the European Commission have repeatedly ignored the advice and, this year, set a catch of about 23,000 tons - almost half of the remaining stock.
Blake Lee-Harwood, Greenpeace's campaign director, said Asda's move highlighted how store chains were rapidly "delisting" endangered species.
"It's one of those issues whose time has come and I think supermarkets have been looking at themselves and have thought: 'We can't really justify selling the last cod in the North Sea.'"
He believed consumers still had little idea just how overfishing has harmed stocks - 75 per cent are over-exploited. He said: "People think [the sea] is so vast we cannot possibly catch all the fish. If you have any experience of the fishing industry, you realise it is only too possible."
Bryce Beukers-Stewart, fisheries policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: "The warnings about overfishing have been going on for years and suddenly supermarkets are reacting.There's a lot of competition between supermarkets: as soon as you perceive that selling sustainable fish is beneficial, everyone jumps aboard."
Fish to avoid
* Atlantic Cod: overfished. Eat well-managed Icelandic cod.
* Monkfish: over-exploited, long-lived
* Marlin: predator plays an important role in marine eco-system. Over-fished.
* Seabass: avoid trawl fisheries that kill dolphins. Choose line-caught seabass
* Skates and rays: endangered, slow to mature
Fish to eat
* Herring: plentiful in North Sea. Contains Omega 3
* Salmon: organic farmed better for the environment
* Hoki: New Zealand white fish. Treat like cod
* Red Gurnard: fast growing and liked by chefs
* Alaskan Pollock: sustainably fished
Source: Marine Conservation Society
Red squirrels being killed by form of leprosy in Scotland in latest threat to declining species
Plastic rubbish heaps at sea pose bigger threat to Earth than climate change, claims ocean expert
We must protect our oceans, says seven seas swimmer Lewis Pugh
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 1 Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 4 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 5 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...
£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...