Sainsbury's is the second largest retailer in the UK, selling around £500 million worth of fish each year. The retailer is also leading the way through its commitment to having all its fish independently certified as sustainable by 2020.
The company is currently 76 per cent completed on this target and sells more sustainably certified seafood than other retailers in the UK.
For wild fish, Sainsbury's has adopted the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard. For farmed fish, three standards have been adopted - GLOBAL G.A.P, Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).
Whilst the ASC logo will be seen on pangasius products in store, the other two are not consumer facing so you will not see a logo, Mr Dingwall explained.
Sales of fish are split almost 50-50 between wild and farmed. Farmed fish are represented by the sale of just six species whilst the wild fish are represented by 44, showing the dominance of farmed fish sales.
Whilst sales of farmed seafood are doing well, actual fish consumption in the UK is low.
Current guidelines say we should eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily fish, said Mr Dingwall.
This equates to roughly 32kg live weight per capita per year. In reality however, consumption is at 20.8 kg, leaving a shortfall of 12 kg.
So how do we get people to eat more fish?
Barriers to consumption are known to be that some people do not like the taste, smell or the skin/bones aspect of fish.
People are also much less familiar with how to cook fish and how it can be made into fantastic dishes. It also tends to be highly priced which can also put people off buying.
In general, people know fish is good for them. So in order to make people want to buy it, it needs to look good, be clearly fresh, easy to prepare or cook – especially ways which reduce the smell - and be good value for money with decent portion sizes.
As well as encouraging more consumption, it is also vital that there is continued investment into research and development in order to advance the sector sustainably.
Key focus areas will be:
- Biosecurity and disease prevention
- Production techniques
In terms of feed, a priority of R&D will be to reduce the use of fish meal and fish oil, finding alternatives, and also to look at land use for terrestrially grown products.
Whilst inland and mariculture production are both growing, there is far more land based aquaculture than at sea – mainly due to the more simple technology needed for land-based farming.
However, with the ocean making up a larger proportion of the earths surface than land we need to examine new mariculture production technologies and maximise zonal productivity, such as through Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), said Mr Dingwall.
Industry and academic collaboration will also be very important for successful research and development, Mr Dingwall concluded.