Sainsbury's pledges to sell only line caught fresh cod and haddock –

Sainsbury’s pledges to sell only line caught fresh cod and haddock Published:  12 April, 2007

Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles welcomed the news

FRESH from beating off the private equity hawks yesterday, Sainsbury’s, which claims to be the UK’s largest fishmonger, has announced it will only sell line-caught fresh cod and haddock to its 16 million customers.

Line catching means using the more selective fishing method of hooks on a line rather than nets to land the fish. The move will account for almost 10,000 tonnes of fresh cod and haddock every year, meaning customers don’t have to make a conscious decision to buy cod and haddock from sustainable stocks – they just will.

The supermarket says line-caught fish from small-scale fisheries don’t have the bycatch or stock-depletion problems that are associated with trawling with massive nets. Line-caught fish also tends to be of better quality than trawled or netted fish as it suffers less stress and damage during capture.

Sainsbury’s confirmed it will now sell the largest amount of line-caught fresh cod and haddock of all supermarkets in the UK. Both species account for a quarter of all fish eaten by customers.

The move applies to both counter and pre-packed fish and will be available from April 25. In February 2006, Sainsbury’s introduced a rolling monthly programme, which encourages shoppers to buy different fish that are in season and from sustainable sources.

With over 300 Sainsbury’s fish counters across the UK, the initiative aims to take the pressure off more traditional species that are depleting and the company hopes that other retailers will follow suit. Sainsbury’s said it has already seen signs of customers beginning to ‘season shop’ with the success of its ‘New In Season’ fish, fruit and vegetable campaigns.

The news was welcomed by Oliver Knowles, the Greenpeace Oceans campaigner, who said: “Sainsbury’s move to 100 per cent line caught fresh cod and haddock once again demonstrates the company’s serious commitment to eliminating destructively caught seafood from their shelves.

“By moving to line caught fishing, Sainsbury’s have begun to sound the death knell for more indiscriminate and destructive fishing methods. Anyone selling seafood, from the other big supermarkets to restaurants and fish and chip shops, would do well to follow Sainsbury’s lead.”

Ritchie McFee, the fresh fish buyer for Sainsbury’s said: “For over a year now, we have offered our customers an ‘in-season’ fish calendar with an aim of encouraging customers to try different species. While this is proving popular, cod and haddock remain two of the UK’s best loved fish to eat, and form part of five species that make up 80% of our overall fish sales.

“To address this, we want to ensure we can make cod and haddock, and all species as sustainable as possible. This way our customers can continue to buy what they like, without the worry of where it’s come from, and how it’s been caught.”

He said line catching equipment has a very limited impact on the environment. The line is weighted to sink onto the sea floor but not dragged against it causing damage to the sea floor ecology. Fresh line catching vessels are fishing for shorter periods – from one to three days maximum. Fish therefore arrives back at the dockside in fresher condition. Sainsbury’s line-caught fresh cod and haddock, which includes counter fish and pre-packed, will mostly come from Iceland.

Sainsbury’s maintain that the Icelandic Fisheries are considered to be one of the most well-managed fisheries in the Northern Hemisphere, if not the world. Iceland has the healthiest fish stocks of cod.

Meanwhile, there was a general sense of relief from Sainsbury’s suppliers, including seafood suppliers, that the private equity deal had fallen through, as predicted on yesterday before the official announcement was made. The company is well on the road to recovery with strong growth and that will only benefit suppliers.

However, some City analysts believe the private equity hawks could be circling again within a year or so – especially if the current growth performance should falter. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.