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Marks & Spencer to change tuna policy

Marks & Spencer is to change the way it sources tuna amid rising concern about over-fishing.

By the end of this month, M&S said it would become the first UK food retailer to source only pole & line or line-caught tuna for its fresh foods from sandwiches to fresh steaks. By the end of this year, it hopes to source only pole and line-caught fish for its canned tuna.

Conservationists say pole and line and line-caught are the best for ensuring that fishing boats do not kill other species such as turtles and sharks.

Concern about over-fishing has been growing ahead of the nationwide release this Friday of a new film about over-fishing, The End of the Line, which charts the decline of bluefin tuna - which M&S has never stocked, but which is on the verge of extinction in the Mediterranean due to demand for sushi and sashimi. The restaurant chain Nobu has insisted it will keep serving bluefin while advising diners to choose more sustainable dishes.

Princes and John West tuna brands were criticised by Greenpeace last year for buying most of their fish from boats using purse seine nets, which snare other species thrown back into the sea dead.

M&S said it was switching all of its canned tuna to pole and line caught skipjack, the most plentiful tuna species, while its fresh tuna will be line-caught yellow-fin.

In the pole and line system, tuna attracted by bait thrown into the water are hooked onboard while targeted line fishing is similar to angling. Both systems eliminate by-catch.

Paul Willgoss, M&S head of technology, said: “We know that fish sustainability is big concern for our customers and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to buy delicious food that they can trust. Now every time they walk into an M&S store they can be rest assured that whether they buy a tuna sandwich or a tasty tuna pasta bake, it has been made using pole and line or line-caught tuna.”