UK retailers Marks & Spencer and Waitrose & Partners have signed the Environmental Justice Foundation’s (EJF) Charter for Transparency in aquaculture.
The charter, which has already been signed by the UK’s other major retailers the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, commits its signatories to ensure their aquaculture supply chains are free from both illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and human rights abuses. Mike Mitchell, Fisheries Specialist at Marks & Spencer (M&S), said: “At M&S, we’re committed to sourcing all our fish responsibly, and we’re proud to lead the sector on transparency with our interactive supplier map, which shows where every type of fish or seafood we sell is caught or farmed. We believe collaborating with EJF and the wider industry to prevent illegal fishing will enable us to create meaningful and lasting change in seafood.”
IUU fishing is estimated to cost the global fisheries industry up to €21 billion annually, a loss attributed in part to the prevailing lack of transparency in aquaculture; which also facilitates systemic abuse of workers on fishing boats, ranging from forced labour to slavery and even murder. The EJF notes that, as a large commercial driver of the fishing industry, supermarkets have both the capacity and the responsibility to support industry reform and ethical best practice.
Waitrose & Partners’ Ethical Trade Manager Sam Ludlow Taylor said: “We have been working on responsible seafood sourcing for over 20 years, only sourcing fish from fisheries and farmed aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed and fully traceable. Our leading approach to responsible fishing extends to the welfare conditions of all workers in our supply chain as their well-being is equally important to us. By signing this charter, further safeguarding measures will be implemented to ensure all workers are operating within a safe and ethical environment, as well as practicing the high standards both we and our customers expect.”