Fresh triumph for ethical tuna fishing campaign

A A A

Letters from customers and embarrassing headlines have forced the last major British supermarket group to drop a destructive form of tuna fishing.

As the latest domino to topple in one of the most successful environmental campaigns in years, Morrisons told The Independent it would ban purse seining using fish-aggregating devices, or Fads, by the end of 2013.

Fads are man-made rafts that attract tuna and other species such as turtles and sharks – which are all scooped up in nets and killed along with the intended catch. In their place, Morrisons will switch to purse seining without fads and pole-and-line, a traditional method which minimises by-catch.

The move brings Britain's fourth-biggest supermarket into line with its competitors. Tesco and Asda announced similar promises earlier this year after a campaign by Greenpeace and the chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. In January, Greenpeace and Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Fish Fight" complained that tuna brands were engaging in damaging fishing practices while telling customers they were kind to the marine environment. Before the campaign was launched, only Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose stocked 100 per cent own-brand tuna caught with the pole-and-line method.

On 10 January, two days before Greenpeace published a league table of eight tuna brands' sustainability, Tesco – which had been ranked last – said it would move to pole-and-line caught tuna by the end of 2012.

Britain's biggest tuna label, Princes, said four days later it would drop a claim on its labels about using fishing methods "which protect the marine environment and marine life". Greenpeace had submitted a dossier to the Office of Fair Trading, alleging the claim was misleading customers. In March, Princes and Asda agreed to phase out Fads by 2014. Announcing Morrisons' change, Steven Butt, head of corporate social responsibility, said the firm had been discussing the change with suppliers for months, but credited the campaign as being an "important factor". "It's galvanised the sector and it's raised awareness, which is a very powerful thing," he said, adding the supermarket had received many letters about it.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, welcomed the "quite unprecedented" speed of change. He said: "One of the significant things about this is that shoppers see tinned tuna like they see tins of baked beans and you often see 'two for the price of one', and what we have been able to do through Hugh's work and from some good campaigning is to get people to understand the value of life in our oceans, and that this is a massive resource – and that it's not just overfished, but fished unsustainably.

"The UK is the second-biggest tinned tuna industry after the US – changing that supply is incredible after a couple of months. It will have a knock-on effect."

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, who will screen a follow-up programme in June, said: "It's been one of those really interesting campaigns where concerted effort and a bit of a pincer movement between Greenpeace and Fish Fight has got an initial good result with the Tesco commitment a couple of months ago, and we have been able to apply the pressure systematically on the rest of the market. As with so many ethical consumer issues you get to the point where there the ethical part of the market starts to be the majority and the unethical becomes the minority." More turtles, dolphins and sharks will be saved because of the changes, he added.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up