Coles and WWF plan fish sustainability

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 21st March 2011

FishColes has announced plans to introduce more certified sustainable seafood options for customers, as well as phasing out sales of several overfished and at-risk species, in an effort to decrease the supermarket’s impact on fish stocks.

Coles said it has enlisted the WWF to help it review all Coles fresh seafood and advise where action is needed to ensure fish is sourceed on a sustainable basis.

In an agreement signed last week with WWF, Coles has agreed not to stock any seafood without taking advice on sustainability from WWF experts. Coles said it will also work with WWF to help customers, suppliers and team members understand why sustainable seafood is important and what they can do to help.

The agreement signed between Coles and WWF will run for an initial period of three years with an option to extend for a further two years. During this time, WWF will work exclusively with Coles to promote sustainable seafood to customers.

WWF will review all Coles own brand fresh, frozen and canned seafood to identify and advise on any sustainability issues, according to the WWF’s “Ecological Sustainability Evaluation of Seafood (wild caught)” (ESES) criteria, which assesses the fish from defined fisheries rather than an overarching species evaluation. The ESES also recognizes that there are often differences in the way individual fisheries are conducted and managed.

Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF Australia, congratulated Coles for taking the first step on a journey towards providing truly sustainable seafood.

“Global demand for seafood has increased significantly over the past few decades. Our oceans are being seriously over fished. Unless we take action, some of our favourite seafood may disappear from the seafood counter altogether.

“WWF is proud to be partnering with Coles. This is the start of a journey which we believe will make it possible to enjoy the seafood Australia has to offer while safeguarding healthy and vibrant oceans into the future. “

Coles said the agreement builds on previous moves by the supermarket to improve its seafood sustainability, including shifting all Coles Brand canned tuna to 100% skipjack tuna from sustainable sources two years ago, and last year removing Orange Roughy from sale in response to concerns.

The company will begin its partnership with WWF by replacing the black tipped reef shark with the better choice of gummy shark, which is caught in the waters off South Eastern Australia.

Coles said it is encouraging its customers to try new types of seafood in a bid to help preserve stocks of traditional favourites, which are under threat from overfishing.

Coles Merchandise Director, John Durkan, said the agreement with WWF would reassure customers and support the Australian Government’s aim to protect Australian fish stocks against overfishing.

“Seafood is one of our fastest growing food categories because customers love to eat fresh fish and recognize the significant health benefits of doing so,” said Durkan. “But we know that customers are increasingly concerned about how and where their seafood is caught. By working with WWF we can help provide customers with better seafood choices which are not only great quality but also sustainably fished.”

“Safeguarding vulnerable fish stocks now will also ensure that the Australian fishing industry can continue to thrive for generations to come.”

The agreement will be accompanied by a new ‘Feed your family seafood’ guide, backed by the company’s chef ambassador Curtis Stone, designed to help customers select and cook seafood, available in-store and online.

Coles will be working with experts from WWF to support our seafood suppliers in identifying sustainable fish stocks and catch methods which will help to ensure future availability of fish that are currently ‘at risk’.

“Seafood is one of my favourite ingredients in the kitchen and Australian seafood is amongst the best in the world,” said Stone.

“We are surrounded by beautiful waters boasting a huge variety of fish but whilst this can be a blessing, it also needs to be respected.

“Coles’ decision to work with WWF will play an important part in helping to safeguard species of fish that are at risk and will ensure that our favourite seafood will be around for years to come.”