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Retailers have ‘moral responsibility’ to act on scampi fishing, say campaigners

Open Seas and other groups have written to the bosses of 13 UK supermarkets and food companies selling the product.

Katrine Bussey
Thursday 18 January 2024 00:01 GMT
Campaigners have raised concerns about the fishing practices used to source langoustines for scampi (Nick Ansell/PA)
Campaigners have raised concerns about the fishing practices used to source langoustines for scampi (Nick Ansell/PA)

Supermarkets have a “moral responsibility” to act to ensure scampi sold on their shelves is being sourced responsibly, marine campaigners have said.

The bosses of 13 UK supermarkets and food firms which sell scampi are being urged by environmentalists to ensure suppliers adopt improved practices.

A letter has been sent to the companies as part of the Say No To Scampi campaign, spearheaded by the charity Open Seas.

It started the campaign last year in a bid to tackle the “extensive damage” caused to the marine environment and seabed by trawling practices used to catch the langoustines for scampi.

The letter, signed by campaign groups Greenpeace, Oceana UK and Blue Marine Foundation as well as Open Seas, calls on supermarket bosses and those companies selling scampi to ensure their suppliers fit remote electronic monitoring devices on fishing boats by the end of this year, and also seek to better regulate where boats use their trawling gear.

Phil Taylor, director of Open Seas, claimed: “Supermarkets have taken six years so far to address multiple problems within their supply chains, and yet issues of excessive bycatch, seabed harm as well as worker rights issues remain.

“The CEOs of these food companies now have both a business and a moral responsibility to act.

“These supermarkets can take immediate action by requiring all their suppliers are fitted with enhanced vessel monitoring systems and working to a spatial management plan that safeguards the environment.

Supermarkets have the power to prevent further harm to seabed habitats from bottom trawling for scampi by refusing to buy it until their suppliers can source it sustainably

Fiona Nicholls, Greenpeace UK

“This is a litmus test for the green claims of food retailers and is being watched closely by all those working to champion the marine environment and sustainability.”

Hugo Tagholm, executive director of Oceana UK, spoke out against the practice of bottom trawling – which involves heavy nets being dragged across the seabed.

He said the practice “devastates seabed habitats” as “vast weighted nets bulldoze habitats as well as scooping up all sea life in their path, with grave consequences for the wider ocean ecosystem”.

He added: “It’s time that our supermarkets take responsibility for their part in this destruction.

“Selling scampi as ‘responsibly sourced’ when it has been caught using this damaging and poorly managed practice is deeply misleading for shoppers, harmful to coastal communities, and disastrous for our seas.”

Fiona Nicholls, oceans campaigner with Greenpeace UK, said: “Many consumers would be horrified if they knew scampi which is claimed to be ‘responsibly sourced’ is caught in such a destructive way.

“Supermarkets have the power to prevent further harm to seabed habitats from bottom trawling for scampi by refusing to buy it until their suppliers can source it sustainably.

“This small act could make a huge difference when it comes to protecting our oceans.”

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