UK retailers join EJF transparency pact

M&S and Waitrose have joined EJF's fight against illegal fishing Photo: Environmental Justice Foundation M&S and Waitrose have joined EJF's fight against illegal fishing Photo: Environmental Justice Foundation

Marks & Spencer and Waitrose & Partners have become the latest UK major retailers to commit to ensuing their seafood supply chains are free from illegal fishing and human rights abuses by signing the Environmental Justice Foundation’s (EJF) Charter for Transparency.

The lack of transparency in the global seafood industry means that illegal fishing is rife, costing the global economy an estimated US$10 - 23.5bn every year. M&S and Waitrose join existing signatories, Tesco, Sainsbury's and the Co-op.

EJF’s executive director, Steve Trent, said that it was heartening to see major retailers join the fight against illegal fishing. “It will give them the tools to develop effective risk mitigation policies and processes across the entire supply chain, backed by truly independent verification," he said.

"In addition, supermarkets have real power to encourage governments across the world to implement the few basic measures that are vital to eradicating illegal fishing and human rights abuses in fisheries. They are also, of course, doing what consumers want and deserve.”

The charter includes detailed recommendations retailers can use to make sure no boat associated with illegal or unethical practices taints their supply chain. Central to this is the use of traceability systems that allow fish to be tracked from net to plate, backed up by third party audits.

These simple, low-cost measures – which include publishing licence lists and giving vessels unique numbers – are well within the reach of any country and can play a pivotal role in the battle against illegal fishing and human rights abuse in the sector.

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