Waitrose supports The End of the Line

The UK cinema release of the film is being supported by retailer Waitrose, which has a long term commitment to responsible fish sourcing.

The retailer launched its Responsible Fishing Policy 12 years ago, which includes a complete ban on any threatened species and on damaging fishing methods such as beam trawling.

All its fish are from sustainable wild sources or, if farmed fish,  from responsible farming systems.  Mark Price, Waitrose managing director, said:

To support the launch of such an important film was an absolute must for Waitrose.  With many species on the brink of extinction there has never been a more pressing need to bring this issue to the fore. The End of the Line shows that we can all enjoy fish, but encourages viewers to think more carefully about where their fish is coming from.”

To find out more about Waitrose’s policies go to: www.waitrose.com/food/productranges/fish.aspx

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13 Responses to “Waitrose supports The End of the Line”


  1. 1 Blue Planet Society

    As Waitrose sells wild, commercially caught fish, and despite reassurances many believe that sustainable commercially caught wild fish is a conradiction in terms, I find Waitrose to be strange bedfellows for this film. A bit like a butcher sponsoring the film ‘Babe’.

  2. 2 Quentin Clark Senior Buyer Poultry, Fish and Eggs Waitrose

    Blue Planet Society
    This question strikes straight to the point and you will not be surprised to learn that you are not the first to ask why we are backing a film like this when our aim is to sell more fish. But … that is absolutely the point of our involvement and highlights a potential misunderstanding.

    We do want to sell fish, but not at any cost. To do that we need plenty of fish and we need to ensure that we can continue to do so in the future. That is why we have had such a strong policy on only selling fish from sustainable sources for such a long time – and why we are encouraging our customers and all viewers of the film to become part of the solution by considering the issues raised. Waitrose took the decision to support the launch to help get as many people as possible to see it. The issues are very wide ranging and complex and we have spent over ten years building our policy and sourcing so that all the fish we sell meets the following criteria.
    • It must NOT be a species that is endangered or threatened in the area that it is caught. E.g. we do not sell:-
    Common skate , Marlin, Wild Atlantic salmon, Bluefin tuna, Big eye tuna, Sturgeon products, Shark ,Swordfish, Antarctic Tooth fish, Ribaldo, Dogfish, Orange roughy, White bait, Ling, Immature flatfish, Grey mullet, European Hake, North Atlantic Halibut, Wild caught tropical prawns

    • It must come from a well managed fishery with effective and scientific management controls that are aimed at maintaining the fish biomass.

    • It must be caught using the most selective and least environmentally damaging method possible.
    The following fishing methods are acceptable:
    Pole and line, long line, hand line, seine netting, gill netting, purse seining, jigging, use of creel & pots, artisanal fishing methods such as the use of dhows& garoor and dive catching. Pair trawling and beam trawling are not permitted. The use of fish aggregation devices is not permitted.

    • It must be fully traceable back to catch to prevent any illegal fish and to ensure compliance with conservation measures. This also ensures we have full control over the quality of the fish.

    Waitrose shares the belief that sustainable fishing is one of the biggest issues we face alongside climate change and that it is too important to be left to the law of supply and demand to sort it out. The film does a great job in provoking the question “Where does this fish come from and how it was caught” . We hope that by raising the issues people will choose to buy sustainably caught fish now which may cost a little more, but keeps fish in the oceans, rather than paying a lot more later in every way.
    Quentin Clark

  3. 3 Blue Planet Society

    One man’s sustainable fish is another man’s overexploited fish of tomorrow. Whilst I fully appreciate your good intentions, and wish the film well, Alaskan pollock sales rose by 44% last year. At that rate how long will that fishery remain sustainable? ‘Sustainable’ species like mackeral and some tuna are pelagic, so how can we gaurantee that they are not being overexploited?

    Our oceans are in a terrible mess. Let’s protect at least one-third of our oceans, wait a decade, and then have this conversation about selling wild marine fish commercially.

  4. 4 foodie

    I find it odd that Waitrose is backing this as quick look at thier online shopping site shows they they sell stacks of John West tuna which is caught with the dreaded purse-seiners (giant nets) setting on FADs (fishing radar detectors). Endangered species such as sharks, whales, mantra rays, billfish and turtles set on these fishing devices and for them it means an almost certain death.

    So, while Waitrose may take a sustainable approach to their offering on the fresh fish counter, they really should be taking a broader look at the branded fish products they sell!

  5. 5 Andrew Harris

    I would like to see Quentin Clark’s response to Foodie’s point, especially as I do get fish from Waitrose and do make a serious effort to avoid what I understand to be endangered species.

  6. 6 Quentin Clark

    With apologies to W.W.F. - How do you eat an elephant? - answer- in pieces. The issue of sustainable fishing is a huge elephant. We have been working on the first piece, our own label standards, for 12 years. To reassure Andrew, the same standards are applied to all our frozen and pre-packed ranges as well as the service counter.
    As part of the second piece, two years ago Waitrose invited all our branded suppliers and key NGOs such as Greenpeace and The Marine Conservation Society to join us at a conference to set out our own label policy and to set the scene in terms of our expectations.
    The implication in Foodie’s blog is that because there is work to be done Waitrose should not be involved with this film. Quite to the contrary I believe that we should be backing it to the hilt as forthcoming activity will prove. If Waitrose had sat down 12 years ago and decided, because of the scale of work that we would do nothing we would have failed in making the progress we have made so far. We are trying to drive change at every level through increased awareness of the issues and our support for “The End Of The Line” is part of that work.
    In July Waitrose is launching an own-label range of tinned tuna which is pole and line caught and fully meets our criteria.
    Quentin Clark

  7. 7 Peter Kay

    So …………….. Waitrose Scallops are all diver caught then ?????

  8. 8 Christopher Bartlett

    Quentin, that you, along with your spin generating colleagues in other retailers, consider long lining to be an acceptable method of sustainable fishing (or just a convenient way of pulling the wool over the eyes of an uninformed public), is very worrying.

    Long lining produces massive by-catch of sharks, endangered sea birds such as the albatross numbering up to 100,000 per annum, and 50,000 turtles, as well as dolphin, marlin, and other endangered pelagic species. Unless MSC-certified, all tinned tuna is caught unsustainably. It has also been documented that dolphin is used as bait on the hooks in some parts of the world.

    On another point, when are supermarkets going to stop selling poultry and pig products that are fed on fish? 30 percent of the fish landed (landed, not caught, as much more is caught than landed) is turned to fishmeal and fed to those great ocean predators, the pig and the chicken.

    And while we’re at it, how about stopping stocking tuna cat food - according to Paul Watson, founder of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd, domestic cats eat more tuna than wild dolphin do.

  9. 9 Quentin Clark

    Chris, here comes more spin!
    For the rest of you I hope the following responses are useful .

    Scallop Dredging
    Waitrose is very aware of the issues surrounding the dredging of scallops and this is an area that we are working on.
    Firstly, whilst it would be wrong to deny that scallop dredging has an impact there needs to be an appreciation that ‘impact’ is not the same as ‘destructive impact’. While it is not appropriate for high-impact mobile bottom gear such as scallop dredges to be used in sensitive areas, it may be acceptable in areas with no complex biological structures (such as soft corals), or little likelihood of developing them (such areas of high exposure or unsuitable seabed material).
    Secondly, gear-technologists have been grappling with improving scallop dredgers to reduce benthic impact for years. To date, no viable alternatives exist for the dredgers in use today for harvesting king scallops. The fishing industry is continuing to explore new gear-types and earlier this year funding has been generated to carry out sea-trials on novel gear. It may be that farmed scallops will provide an alternative but no such operation currently exists unless anybody can tell me otherwise.
    Finally, diver-caught scallops are not necessarily always ‘greener than green’. If not properly managed, divers can have localised negative impacts on scallop populations and can access beds out of reach of dredgers which may historically ‘seed’ the beds.

    Is it really justifiable to put tuna in cat food?
    I do not have full knowledge of the total pet food industry but for Waitrose products the industry is based on the conversion of the waste from human food production and converting it into something of value through inclusion in pet food. The same applies for chicken, duck, salmon and everything else. Without this market the materials would simply have to be destroyed . Waitrose is extremely focussed on the issues of carcass utilisation so that every scrap of available fish that can be used for human consumption is. I am not sure that excluding tuna by-products from pet food would make any difference except cause a problem with disposal.

    The inclusion of fish meal in animal feed.
    Speaking with my poultry hat on, we have not used fish meal in our feed formulations since 2002 for meat birds. However, it is included in the organic feed for our laying birds at about 1.5% and is a vital source of essential amino acids that would otherwise not be available in that diet because of the requirements for the organic sourcing of the ingredients for the feed. It is not included in the feed for our free range eggs and as you may be aware Waitrose do not sell any caged eggs either as shell eggs or as an ingredient in any own label products.
    I should add that Waitrose do feed a diet to our farmed salmon that has been made from sustainably sourced ingredients. We do not agree with the use of cheaper vegetable replacements in this diet on the grounds of demonstrable welfare issues for the fish and uncertainty over the nutritional value of the fish in terms of the omega 3/6 content from fish produced in this way.

    Long Line fishing
    Thank you to Chris for your summary of all the problems of long line fishing. We are fully aware of these and completely share your concerns. We greatly favour line caught fish over trawled in the case of cod and haddock for example but I know you are referring to the long lining for tuna in the main. We should make it clear that a significant and increasing proportion of our tuna is pole and line or hand line caught . All own label tinned tuna will be from this source as well in July. We do not stock Bluefin or Big Eye tuna. We only buy fish from known sources to make sure we have full traceability. Where long lining is still used in latitudes where bird by-catch could be a problem we insist on the use of bird scarers, shooting the lines deep etc. to prevent any seabird entrapment. However , whilst there are other mitigation measures such as the use of circle hooks to prevent turtle by-catch there is no doubt that we are seeking to move completely to pole and line or hand line methods. We do stock albacore tuna in jars certified to the MSC standard.

    Quentin Clark
    Senior Buyer Poultry, Fish and Eggs.

  10. 10 Russell Seekins

    In this as in many cases, let’s not allow the great to be the enemy of the good. We might seek perfection, but it seems to me Waitrose are doing a decent job in this area, and we should be pleased they they’re supporting the film. If we could get the fishmongers, supermarkets, restaurants and fish and chip shops to do even half what they’re doing it would make an enormous difference.

  11. 11 Joe Bauwens

    Scallop farming is a traditional industry in Japan, and apparently provides about half of all scallops eaten in Japan. They are also widely farmed in North America, and to a lesser extent in Europe. It would be good to see this industry developed in the UK as unlike farmed fish filter feeding bivalves do not need wild caught fish as feed. It could also provide employment in coastal areas, where unemployment is often high - one of the reasons politicians find it hard to cut fishing fleets

  12. 12 HB

    I totally agree with Russell, bashing Waitrose is counter productive. There’s pretty much only one supermarket in the UK that pays any attention to the issue of sustainable fishing and that’s them. Instead of attacking them relentlessly it wouldn’t hurt to give them a little bit of support. Even if Waitrose is merely paying lip service - which seems incidentally to be a rather unbalanced conclusion to arrive at given everything that’s been done to date - they are hugely out performing the other supermarkets by a long shot. Can you imagine Tesco or Asda doing anything what-so-ever in relation to this issue? The most pro-active form of engagement you’ll get out of one of the other supermarkets is a 3 for 2 offer.

    Short of buying a fishing rod and going out to catch my own fish each weekend, shopping at Waitrose for my fish seems like a pretty reasonable half way house for me at this point in time. Is it a perfect solution? - most likely not. Is it better that the alternatives? - it seems so based on my current knowledge.

  13. 13 Lost Travellers

    Since a child i have loved watching documentaries about the Great White Shark, the worlds most perfect killing machine.

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