Is eco-fishing the new organic?
Charles Redfern - 26 October 2011
Together with Hugh's brilliant Fish Fight
, Greenpeace's table certainly shook-up Big Tuna. The question is: how real, substantial and effective will the promised changes be?
Some, including Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer’s and Young's, have been doing fish sustainability for a long time and earned their stripes. With others, the phrase “jumping on the bandwagon” springs to mind.
A paper-pledge will help a company climb a league table but, once the glare of media spotlight moves on, how many will quietly withdraw their pledges?
I am also concerned how paper-promises confuse the consumer. I am amazed by the mishmash of sustainability terms, NGO name-dropping, and high-falluting words used. How can a consumer sort the wheat from the chaff?
As someone whose heart is in organic, I am also struck by how politicians, press and public have embraced the issue of sea-sustainability - in a way they have have not with land-sustainability.
My suspicion is that fish sustainability is getting an easy ride because people don't understand how complex it is. There's a honeymoon period, just as the organic world had a decade ago. The truth is that sea sustainability is just as complex.
I think people lose interest when black and white becomes shades of grey. This is where organic seems to be at present.
And yet organic is the one system where the actual use of the word "sustainable" is enshrined in law.
We are close to the limits of what ethical shopping can achieve. Beyond that we need ethical rules, seriously implemented, policed and controlled.
Nudge, a current policy buzzword, is doomed to failure if you leave it to the marketplace. Changes must happen at a citizen as well as at a consumer level.
Meanwhile, back on consumer level, here is a Fish4Ever announcement: our tuna cannery in the Azores has just certified as organic (with our support) so watch out for our sustainable skipjack tuna with organic oil!
Charles is the founder of the ethical canned fish company, Fish4Ever, the sister company of Organico, both based in Reading. Fish4Ever's motto is Land, Sea and People. Its land ingredients are 100% organic - supporting traditional fishing communities is as important as saving the fish. He is currently involved in a number of awareness-raising campaigns working with WWF, Sustainable Fish City, the Environmental Justice Foundation and the Marine Conservation Society.