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ClientEarth Communications

8th May 2017

Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC)
Wildlife & habitats
Fisheries & Seafood

Over 80 percent of UK supermarket seafood now responsibly sourced and labelled

Over 80% of seafood in supermarkets is now labelled and sourced responsibly, after a 2011 study found that shops were potentially misleading customers with sustainability claims on their fish.

The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) was set up in response to the damning 2011 report. It brings together the majority of major retailers and big seafood brands who agreed codes on responsible seafood sourcing and labelling.

Today’s new study shows the vast majority of seafood products in supermarkets are now labelled and sourced responsibly, in line with the Sustainable Seafood Coalition’s codes. This is up 15% since the SSC was founded, from 68% to 83%.

The study is the first independent review of how well SSC businesses are adhering to the codes of conduct, and compares them against non-SSC businesses.

ClientEarth sustainable seafood project lead Katie Miller said: “As more and more shops label and source seafood responsibly, customers can have faith that the products they buy are truly sustainable. Now other industry players – from chip shops to restaurant chains and school canteens – must step up to make sure the fish they sell is responsibly sourced and clearly labelled.”

The 2011 report found that potentially misleading labels like ‘sustainably sourced’ or ‘responsibly farmed’ were used by supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer.

A lack of clear, agreed criteria on what makes seafood sustainable meant that customers couldn’t trust what they were buying or make decisions about the impact of their food on the environment.

The new study marks two years since the SSC businesses signed up to responsible labelling and sourcing codes. Only 3% of claims from SSC members were found to be potentially misleading and not match up with the SSC codes, compared to 14% of claims made by businesses which are not members the SSC. This move is encouraging, but we need to see all seafood products labelled properly and other businesses must take charge.

This doesn’t just affect customers. If seafood sellers don’t take responsibility, fish supplies will continue to fall. Better information should be available on seafood products sold in supermarkets and there should be greater transparency about how businesses source their fish and seafood.