According to UN FAO
, fish and shellfish is one of the largest traded food commodities in the world and provides sustenance to billions of people worldwide (around 3 billion people rely on both wild-caught and farmed seafood as their primary source of protein) and much needed economic benefits to coastal communities.
Since the development of modern technology in the fishing industry in the 1950s, there has been a significant impact on the marine environment and over-fishing has depleted stocks of many species, including Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna. Irresponsible fishing practices can also harm other sea life and waste millions of tonnes of non-target fish each year. Fish farming (aquaculture) is a young evolving industry and although it continues to bring many positive sustainability benefits and is now responsible for more than 50% of all seafood produced for human consumption, it has also, in some places, impacted coastal habitats, lakes and rivers through, amongst other things, disease management, excessive waste and mangrove clearance.
We have had a sustainable fish sourcing policy
in place since 1997. Sourcing seafood responsibly, from well-managed fisheries and farms, helps safeguard our supply chains and aquatic ecosystems as well as the livelihoods of coastal communities.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead the retail sector in sustainable production and consumption, offering our customers the good value, high quality products and services they expect from M&S, while respecting planetary boundaries and the need for social equity. We recognise the integral role of animal health and welfare in sustainable food production and strive to continue progressing the highest welfare standards.
Our goal is to ensure that all wild-caught and farmed seafood, as well as aquafeed, come from the most responsibly managed sources.
Fish and shellfish are very important to M&S. We use about 60,000 tonnes of seafood (whole weight) annually with approximately two thirds wild caught and the remainder farmed. We source over 30 wild-caught species ranging from Atlantic cod, haddock, plaice and lemon sole to Orkney crab and cold water prawns, and ten farmed species (Lochmuir™ Atlantic salmon and organic salmon, rainbow trout, sea bass, sea bream, halibut, pangasius, turbot, mussels, scallops and farmed shrimp, also known as warm water prawns).
We have been working with WWF
since 2004, initially on specific initiatives such as sustainable fishing and forestry. Then in January 2010, we became the first UK company to sign up to the WWF Seafood Charter
. This commits M&S and WWF to work as partners to drive M&S’s supply chains towards responsible sourcing of sustainable seafood, and to take a leadership role in bringing improvement to fisheries and fish farming globally.
We are also a member of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition
, a cross-industry group in the UK using our influence as seafood businesses to tackle seafood sustainability issues since 2012. We are united in a vision for sustainable seafood and have pledged to work together to achieve this.
We are committed to providing a high level of transparency about our fish and seafood policies and the sustainability status of the species we sell. We communicate to our customers and the public via a number of channels including this website, in-store décor and on pack messages. Our seafood products which meet our strict criteria for responsibly farmed fish and responsibly caught wild fish are also eligible for a Plan A product attribute. Around 86% of fish and shellfish sold (by volume) in 2015/16 had at least one Plan A product attribute. Find out more about our approach to product sustainability.
Our approach to sourcing the most responsible fish and seafood focuses on:
Establishing and maintaining clear minimum sourcing standards
Supporting programmes that further our understanding and build capacity within our supply chain
Supporting market transformation through working with industry partners and other stakeholders
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership are an important part of how we do business.
To develop our approach to sourcing fish and seafood more sustainably, we’ve worked with many partners, including WWF
, the Marine Conservation Society
, the Marine Stewardship Council
, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
, International Pole and Line Foundation
, Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum (SARF)
, International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation’s (IFFO)
, and FAI Farms
, as well as industry experts and scientists. Operationally, we’re supported by suppliers and expert organisations such as WWF
, and SAI Globa
l to implement our policies.
We are represented on the Seafish
Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) Oversight Board and are the retail representation on Project UK
(previously Project Inshore). We are active participants in a number of Fisheries Improvement Projects (Philippine yellowfin tuna, Asosiasi Perikanan Pole and Line and Hand Line Indonesia (AP2HI), Orkney brown crab, Canadian cod).