Responsible aquaculture and fisheries

The world's fish stocks continue to be overexploited with detrimental consequences for marine ecosystems and communities. Through our purchasing power and expertise, we aim to influence positive change in global sourcing practices and to reassure customers that the fish they buy has been sourced responsibly.

Target Progress
100% of our own-brand fish and shellfish will be from third party verified responsible sources by year end 2016/17. 89%* of our own-brand fish and shellfish (farmed and wild) is from third party verified responsible sources. See below for further details.

*We engaged KPMG LLP to undertake an independent limited assurance engagement, reporting to the Partnership, over selected information.

Waitrose fish counter

Our policy and approach

We recognise that dynamic changes are happening in the world's oceans and aquaculture operations and so we need to constantly adapt our approach. The complexity of global supply chains and marine practices means we cannot do this alone. Collaboration with suppliers and the wider global industry underpins our approach.

Our fish sourcing policy is clear - Waitrose own-brand suppliers must source only fish and shellfish from fisheries or farmed aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed and we aim for all fish to be verified by third party assurance standards.

We also recognise the significant impact plastic microbeads have on marine life and birds. These are tiny pieces of plastic that are added to everyday cosmetic products, face wash, toothpaste, abrasive cleaners that are small enough to pass water filtration systems and so end up in waterways and oceans. We have taken a strong position that Waitrose will not sell any products that contain them, whether branded or own-brand.

Supporting the health of our marine ecosystems

We made a commitment that by the end of 2016/17 all Waitrose own-brand fish and shellfish would be from third party verified responsible sources. In 2016/17 89%* was third-party verified. We are finding it challenging to reach 100% due to our smaller suppliers' capacity to achieve third party verification, but we expect to do this by 2020. We are working closely with these suppliers to ensure high standards of practice are met and going forward our priority will be to support them to obtain verification.

In addition, we have co-funded and are members of the Project UK Fisheries Improvements (PUKFI). This organisation runs fishery improvement projects at six fisheries which have been identified as of major importance to the UK fishing industry. The projects help fisheries understand where they fall short of third-party verification and PUKFI works with the fishery to create an action plan.

We also actively support the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme - a voluntary vessel-based programme certifying high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on fishing vessels. We have set a requirement that British fishing vessels supplying our seafood will need to be part of this scheme by 2020.  

We sit on the Technical Committee of the Seafish Responsible Ports Standard which is currently in development. This aims to promote responsible food safety and good operational practices within fishing ports and harbours.   

We are also now a retail member of the consumption group of the DEFRA Seafood Task Force 2040. The purpose of the task force is to promote a collaborative and sustainable seafood industry across England.

*We engaged KPMG LLP to undertake an independent limited assurance engagement, reporting to the Partnership, over selected information.

Fisherman pulling on line

Focus on tuna

Tuna is integral to our marine ecosystem. It supports the diet of millions and, as a commodity, is fundamental to the global economy. Managing how it is caught is critical.

Certain methods of fishing for tuna are more likely than others to result in bycatch of non-target species. Recognising this risk, we have set a goal that by the end of 2017 all canned tuna sold at Waitrose will either be Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, or guaranteed as caught using only pole and line fishing methods. We are also working with WWF and two other supermarkets to improve the standards in the handline tuna fisheries in the Philippines in order to secure certification.

Since 2013, Waitrose has been an active Member of the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF). This works to develop socially and environmentally responsible one-by-one (pole-and-line, handline and troll) tuna fisheries. Waitrose has supported initiatives to improve tuna management regionally and in-country. One example of this is the Indonesian tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) for pole-and-line and handline fisheries. This comprehensive FIP is making exceptional progress and is on course to enter full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council certification in 2017. Waitrose and IPNLF continue to work collaboratively with the shared vision of ensuring coastal tuna fisheries and the people, businesses and seas dependent upon them, thrive.