Consuming Issues: A fishy tale: Princes' claims on its tuna tins

A television series this week showed British trawlermen tossing dead cod back into the sea and African fishermen confirming their tuna nets also snared turtles, sharks and dolphins.

While campaigners have been warning about wasteful trawling for years, the images from Hugh's Fish Fight depicted the reality stronger than any number of academic papers, quango websites or newspaper articles about "discards".

If, after watching the prgrammes, you want to help keep the oceans healthy, what can you do? Well one of presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's messages was that British consumers rely too heavily on just three different species, cod, salmon and tuna, all of which are associated with different environmental problems: cod because it is heavily fished, making it even more absurd to throw back caught specimens; tuna because there is a large by-catch, unwittingly listed by those Ghanaian fishermen, and salmon, because three kilos of small fish are required to produce one farmed kilo.

Consumers can help by signing up the Fish Fight campaign to end discards, and by shopping more carefully.

Cod. While North Sea stocks are recovering, cod off the UK is only a fraction of its historical abundance, probably only one twentieth. Most of Britain's traditional favourite in fish-and-chip shops and supermarkets comes from hundreds of miles away, from Iceland and the Barents Sea. There is no reason to boycott cod because these faraway fisheries are well managed, but such a heavy emphasis on cod could lead to it plunging back into trouble in the future. Eating other species such as coley, gurnard, dab, flounder and herring helps relieve pressure on cod and preserve it for future generations, though you may need to visit a fishmonger to find some of them.

Tuna. Some tuna is caught by the pole-and-line method, which does not involve by-catch, but most is caught by purse seine trawlers. In a few words, purse seine nets hoover up marine life congregating around man-made rafts called fish aggregating devices (FADs), including turtles, sharks and other animals, which are usually thrown back into the water, dead. This week Greenpeace published a league table of tinned tuna. Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, which all sell pole and line caught tuna, topped the table. The purse seining Princes, responsible for a third of UK tuna sales, came bottom. Princes said on Wednesday it would drop its claim on its tins that it is "fully committed to fishing methods which protect the marine environment and marine life." Instead it will refer shoppers to an online statement about its policy on sustainability – but it will carry on purse seining. John West, another purse seiner, came second bottom. Greenpeace had ranked Tesco last, but, following Tesco's announcement this week that it will sell only pole and line-caught tinned tuna by the end of 2012, Britain's biggest supermarket was ranked fourth. The best tip here is to buy pole-and-line caught tuna: easily done at Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

Salmon. Given that wild fish also eat small wild fish, there is no need to avoid farmed salmon, but organic salmon farms which use fish offcuts for feed, are better than conventional. There is no harm, though, in eating mackerel instead of salmon from time to time.

More generally, when shopping, the Marine Stewardship Council is a useful though not perfect indicator of whether fish has been sustainably caught.

And don't overlook British seafood, much of which is sold abroad but whichis cheap, healthy and sustainable. Look out for langoustines and mussels, to name just two.

Heroes and villians: Commons probes energy prices and RBS fined £2.8m

Hero: Tim Yeo

Mr Yeo's Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has invited Ofgem's chief executive Alistair Buchanan to a little light questioning next week. The cross-party committee says the subjects to be discussed are: gas and electricity prices, competition in UK energy markets, electricity market reform, and "Ofgem's future".

Villain: RBS Group

RBS and NatWest have been fined £2.8m for mishandling complaints. Which? summarised: "It appears that instead of taking complaints seriously RBS and Natwest have been paying lip-service to the process, delaying and inconveniencing their customers and systematically rejecting complaints they should have been upholding."

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

    Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect