A Fishy Business

January 10th, 2011 by J-P Leave a reply »

Witney historically has less than its fair share of independent fishmongers: understandably, because it’s so far from the nearest fishing port. But the major supermarkets — Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, the Co-Op, Marks & Spencers and Tesco — all stock fish. So if you really don’t want to get your Omega 3 oils from the most sustainable source — oddly enough, flax seeds — then you’ve got plenty of local suppliers to choose from.

But when does sustainable mean sustainable? And who can you trust when supermarkets actively mislead consumers over labelling? Well, local-source aficionado and eccentric TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for one. He’s set to broadcast Hugh’s Fish Fight, an exposé of fishing practices, sustainable or otherwise, on Channel 4 this week at 9pm on Tuesday 11, Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 January.

Fitting in with the fishy theme, Greenpeace have published a Tuna League Table of how carefully all the major supermarkets source their tinned fish. Take a look, the top 5 in the table are all own brands from supermarkets in Witney – but whatever you do, DON’T pick up a can of Princes or John West.

What’s most interesting about the Greenpeace league though, is that in the face of potentially bad publicity worst offender Tesco changed their policy at the last minute as the campaign started to kick in. In other words: consumer pressure can make a difference. So why not send a letter to your favourite supermarket telling them how much you like shopping there, but how you aren’t happy with the policies exposed in the Tuna League Table? Sometimes, when the tide is moving in the right direction, it doesn’t take much effort to get where you want to be.

Ultimately, the gold standard of advice on sustainable fishing is The Good Fish Guide. There’s even a PDF version you can print out and keep. But, like Hugh, that does recommend avoiding tuna and cod altogether. Luckily for you, it makes no mention of flax seeds as an alternative.





  1. Sustainable Witney says:

    If you missed Hugh on telly last night, here’s the issue in a nutshell…

    There’s more again tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm.

  2. moragcrowther says:

    Can I just put a word in for FISH4EVER available from Beanbag in Wesley Walk. Their slogan is ‘Good canned fish now and in the future…’ they talk of a ‘virtuous cycle’ of sustainability: land, sea and people with fair trade working conditions. All this and it tastes really good. All the products have superior flavour to any of the supermarket brands. http://www.fish4ever.co.uk

  3. Sustainable Witney says:

    I like the fish4ever video. Nicely frames the case for regulation in competitive industries.

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