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Monday, November 3, 2014

03/11/2014: An interview with Waitrose aquaculture and fisheries manager Jeremy Langley

Waitrose fish stocks are on track to becoming fully certified as responsibly caught or farmed by 2017, the retailer’s aquaculture and fisheries manager Jeremy Langley has claimed.
 

In an edited version of an interview given for the Marine Stewardship Council’s Seafood Matters blog, Langley talks about the Waitrose Responsible Seafood Sourcing Programme, and why the retailer does such a strong trade in fresh fish, which in turn is reported by The The Grocer on its website today.

Waitrose has made substantial commitments to certified sustainable seafood, including the Marine Stewardship Council. What’s the greatest challenge in keeping those commitments?
As one of the Waitrose Way Commitments we have said that, “By 2017, all Waitrose  fish and shellfish will be independently certified as responsibly caught or farmed to a recognised third party standard."

Our current position is that in volume terms 78% of the seafood we sell is currently certified to one of our recognised schemes.

Depending on the time of year, we sell between 80 and 100 species of fish and shellfish from around 40 to 45 countries and one of our biggest challenge to meeting our target is that there’s not a certification scheme that covers all of the seafood species we sell.

Wild caught fish must be fully traceable to catch areas defined in legislation and from known fishing vessel operators and their vessels.

What’s the difference between responsibly and sustainably sourced seafood?
We insist responsible fishing methods must be used to minimise by-catch of vulnerable and non targeted fish species, (i.e. coral, sea birds, marine mammals). Fishing practices that minimise discards and that avoid capture of immature/undersized fish should be encouraged.  In practice we evaluate all the methods we use for all species of fish that we sell. In the case of lemon sole and plaice we insist that their caught using Danish Seine which has less impact on the environment and produces a higher quality fish.

All our cod and haddock is MSC certified and we are really proud of that fact. Our Responsibly Fish Sourcing Policy also says that all our cod and haddock should be line caught and therefore the fact that both the Icelandic and Norwegian MSC certification included all fishing methods was fantastic news.

Waitrose has 5% market share in grocery retail, but 12% of market share for fresh and smoked. Why does Waitrose fish business perform so well?
Freshness, quality, value and customer service are at the forefront of our customers’ minds when purchasing fish from Waitrose. While responsible sourcing may not be at the forefront of their minds when purchasing fish from us we do know through talking to them that they expect Waitrose to have done that work for them.

We’ve got the next 2.5 years to work our way through the final 20% towards meeting our 2017 target. It’ll be the hardest part according to the 80/20 rule. The bulk of our sales are still in the big five: cod, haddock, prawns, salmon and tuna. We’re in a great position in that all our our farmed and wild caught salmon is independently certified, all our cod and haddock is MSC certified as is our skipjack tuna, not just the fish found in tins, but also the tuna found in our salads, sandwiches and fishcakes. All our coldwater prawns are also MSC certified.


We’ve found over the years that we get a much more consistent high quality fish with hook and line caught cod compared with trawled fish.


Read the full interview HERE.

The Aquaculturists
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