Three big supermarkets have decided to stop selling Scottish mackerel because MSC temporarily cancelled the certification. (Photo: File Stock)
Three retailers to stop selling Scottish mackerel
Wednesday, July 04, 2012, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
The Scottish mackerel sector is facing adversity now that its environmental certification has been suspended because of a dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands: Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and The Co-op are refusing to buy Scottish mackerel.
Now, the fishing sector is angry that Scottish ministers are failing to engage with retailers. The industry said it would be "extremely disappointing" if the supermarkets boycotted Scottish mackerel.
The mackerel dispute was set off when Iceland and the Faroe Islands violated the quotas set by scientists for mackerel in the northeast Atlantic. Overfishing by these countries has resulted in the quotas being exceeded by 25 per cent since 2010, Herald Scotland reports.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) suspended certification of the entire mackerel fishery on 31 March, which has led Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and The Co-op to abandon Scottish mackerel.
"In light of the MSC's decision to remove certification, and in line with our own sustainable sourcing policies, we have taken the decision to stop sourcing from the affected fisheries pending an agreement between the parties involved," said a spokesperson for Sainsbury's.
Marks & Spencer said it will only buy seafood from sustainable sources.
The Co-op said that it was "working with [its] suppliers to find alternatives sources.”
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association (SPFA), opined that it would be unfair to penalise Scottish fishing boats for a problem that is not of their making: it was the Faroese and Icelandic governments that enlarged their quotas to 900,000 tonnes -- some 260,000 tonnes more than the upper limit recommended by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
"I'd be extremely disappointed if consumers in Scotland can't buy Scottish mackerel," he said.
He also called on the three retailers to rethink their policy, Scotsman reports.
"The key message is the stock is still healthy,” he said. “It is still above the precautionary biological reference points."
However, other supermarkets, like Tesco and Waitrose, said they would still buy Scottish mackerel.
Labour's shadow environment secretary, Claire Baker, accused the Scottish Government of "a woeful lack of engagement with supermarkets". She called on ministers "to urgently engage with retailers in Scotland to make sure consumers and the mackerel fishing fleet can come through this difficult time as painlessly as possible."
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said he had already raised his concerns.
"I have personally raised my concerns over their sourcing of seafood on many occasions," he said. "Scotland's priority is to have an international deal in place between all parties that protect the sustainability of the mackerel stock – but not at any price."
- Mackerel fisheries lose MSC accreditation status
By Natalia Real