Waitrose calls for a sea change on the issue of sustainable fishing as new research reveals: 2% are unaware that some fish are as close to extinction


Source: Waitrose

72% are unaware that some fish are as close to extinction as the white rhino[1]

Half our cod could be illegall[2], but 78% of people admit they don’t even try to buy fish from a sustainable source

However 70% are more likely to make sustainable choices when given the facts

Waitrose is calling on consumers to ask where their fish comes from after new research has revealed that over 70% of us don’t know about the shocking state of our seas.

Waitrose is encouraging people to find out more about the issues and get involved at: www.worldwithoutfish.com.

Half the cod on our plates could be illegally caught - fished outside of quotas put in place to protect future supplies. When made aware of facts such as this, 70% of people are more likely to make sustainable choices. But over three quarters (78%) admit that they currently don’t attempt to buy sustainable seafood at all.

Brits have a long-term love affair with cod, and it has been our most popular white fish for generations[3]. But with that love-affair comes a black market, threatening our future stocks.

The YouGov survey of 2,000 UK adults - commissioned by Waitrose - reveals widespread ignorance of the issues around sustainable fishing, with 72% of Brits unaware that species including blue fin tuna are as close to extinction as the white rhino.

Over half (52%) are unaware that fish stocks could be wiped out completely within this century if we continue as we are. And almost two thirds (63%) are unaware of the damaging effect beam trawling can have on the marine environment.

However, the research also reveals that consumers do want to shop ethically. When told just a little about the issues involved, 70% say they are more likely to seek out sustainable seafood. Most people questioned want restaurants (87%) and supermarkets (86%) to buy their fish from sustainable sources. And over half said they would be prepared to pay a little more for seafood if it is sustainably sourced (51%).

Waitrose is releasing the findings to support next week’s nationwide premiere of new film ‘The End of the Line’ on World Oceans Day (June 8th). The film, based on the book by former Telegraph Environment Editor Charles Clover, promises to be ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for the Oceans, drawing much-needed attention to the issue of sustainable fishing.

The plight of the world’s fish stocks has been described by the film’s makers as “the greatest environmental disaster that people haven’t heard about[4]”. Some scientists warn that seafood resources could face total collapse by 2048 if we continue as we are, taking fish off the menu for good and having a devastating impact on the environment.

Support from Waitrose for the film's UK release follows a long-term commitment by the retailer to drive sustainability. Since launching its responsible fishing policy 12 years ago, Waitrose has been taking wide-scale steps, ensuring all its fish are from sustainable sources and are caught using responsible methods. This includes a complete ban on many species under threat, and on damaging fishing methods such as beam trawling.

Waitrose Managing Director Mark Price said: “The booming human population could wipe out fish stocks within this century if we don't act now. This is an environmental disaster, and it will have a real and tangible impact on us all - as consumers, retailers, chefs, or fishermen.

“Given the facts, 70% of people want to buy sustainable fish - so it is our responsibility to make that possible. We're supporting The End of the Line as it essential this issue is brought to the fore. We want everyone to ask where their fish is coming from - to make sure we’re not stealing fish from future generations.”

[1] Bluefin tuna from Mediterranean and Atlantic stocks are listed as endangered on the IUCN red list (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
[2] Source: The End of the Line, Charles Clover. Citing House of Lords, European Union Committee, 21st Report of Session 2007-08. The Progress of the Common Fisheries Problem. (“A press release put out by the European Commission stated ‘that about 50 per cent of the cod landed in the UK was black.’”).
[3] Cod accounts for one in six of all fish sold at Waitrose (all Waitrose cod is Icelandic, line-caught).
[4] George Duffield, producer of The End of the Line.

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