In a growing sign of things to come, Tesco confirmed last week that it has signed up to a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) audit with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, which have just completed an audit of the risks to ocean wildlife in the fisheries that supply seafood to the UK supermarket chain.

The audit is published as part of confirmation that Tesco, through the wider Ocean Disclosure Project, will only sell seafoods subject to confirmed ecosystem based management by 2030.

Publication of the audit comes a week after the release of a report from WWF that examined UK seafood chains and made strong recommendations that imported seafoods, which make up 80% of consumption in the UK, be required to at least equal the standards of sustainability, accountability and transparency required of the UK fishing industry.

The audit looks at a number of possible issues that the SFP, a US-based organisation, says need to be addressed across the seafood sector – in particular, the risks of accidental bycatch of endangered species. The partnership highlights examples such as capture of seabirds, turtles and cetaceans in the world’s tuna fisheries, entanglement of marine mammals by potting vessels, and bycatches in some gill-net fisheries.

“We’re pleased to partner with SFP to protect ocean wildlife and drive progress across the retail industry on the critical issue of seafood sustainability,” Anna Turrell, head of environment at Tesco, said.

“Reducing this endangered species bycatch is a vital element of our ‘seascape’ or ecosystem based approach to promote healthy fish stocks and mitigate the impacts of fishing on the wider marine environment.

“This report is an important step on that journey, and we’re already working with our suppliers to take action on the issues raised, including implementing 100% observer coverage on vessels in our supply chain.”

Whilst this audit is no threat to the limited range of seafoods caught by the UK fishing sector that retail in Tesco, the announcement is a clear demonstration of the direction that major seafood buyers continue to travel in.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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