That’s according to a report from the Changing Markets Foundation, in partnership with campaign group Feedback. The research found UK shoppers buying the top six farmed fish species in 2019 – including salmon and prawns – consumed a ‘hidden’ 172g of wild fish for every 100g of farmed fish eaten. This is due to use of fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) from wild fish used in aquaculture, depleting those stocks.
Changing Markets also founds links between illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in India, Vietnam and Gambia and farmed fish and seafood products sold by UK retailers. The group called for supermarkets to lead the way on ocean stewardship, an area it argued retailers were failing in.
Threatening the ocean
Jessica Sinclair Taylor from Feedback said: “By prominently marketing farmed seafood like salmon and prawns which are fed on wild fish and crustaceans, retailers are promoting an extractive industry which is threatening the long-term health of our oceans.
“Behind the blue planet rhetoric, supermarkets need to get real about the impact of aquaculture, and commit to targets to end the use of wild fish in aquaculture feed.”
Further research revealed seven out of 10 supermarkets received less than 30% on a fish feed sustainability scorecard, with Aldi finishing bottom of the list on 12%, Waitrose receiving just 22% and only Tesco achieving a score over 50%.
Natasha Hurley from Changing Markets added: “UK supermarkets make bold claims about the sustainability of the farmed fish that they sell, however, our research has found that these claims are not backed up by the reality of how their farmed fish is produced.
“Our investigations have shown that the UK’s leading retailers are linked to highly destructive fishing practices in Africa and Southeast Asia which are devastating marine ecosystems and depriving people of food. By turning a blind eye to this, retailers are both failing in their responsibility to preserve the oceans and misleading their customers by hiding the true impact of their products.”
The report called on supermarkets to phase out the use of FMFO sourced from wild-caught fish by 2025 and commit to offering a wider range of seafood to promote diversity and sustainability. It also urged the fish industry to adopt higher standards of transparency in supply chains and to develop robust and transparent standards for sustainably produced seafood – including farmed seafood.