Activist labels Baltic cod "STOLEN FISH" in a Swedish ICA supermarket.
The guidelines that AIPCE came up with were strangely familiar,
being pretty similar to our own recommendations. However, they
only applied to Barents Sea cod and not Baltic Sea cod, which, as
we reported last month, is up to 30
percent illegally caught. The guidelines are also very
general, nevertheless they are a good first step and deserve to be
widely implemented. (If you're really keen you can download
the AIPCE guidelines here).
Thousands of Ocean Defenders have recently asked the number one
frozen food brands in Europe, Birds Eye and Iglo, to make a public
statement on how they
would avoid pirate fish in their products before the Dublin
meeting. So far, they have remained silent. Birds Eye and Iglo are
in the process of being sold to a company called Permira, so they
are in the limelight right now as the industry waits for the sale
to be finalised.
Captain Birdseye strikes back
Meanwhile, in response to all this publicity, a debate has been
waged on the industry news website Intrafish. The
site summarised a letter from Unilever, current owners of Birds Eye
and Iglo, in response to our recent actions involving Ocean
"Unilever felt comfortable purchasing from the [Baltic] region,
given European Commission proposals that fishing continue there,
and added that withdrawing for (sic) fishing in that area would
increase the pressures in other fisheries."
Our oceans campaigner in Norway, Truls Gulowsen, was pretty
shocked at that statement. Truls explains, "I hope I have
misunderstood. Do Iglo and Birds Eye really claim to continue to
source cod from the depleted Eastern Baltic, until its possible
collapse, as a measure to protect other fish stocks? Or is this
just another piece of marketing work trying to confuse the
Truls also pointed out that while the European Commission did
indeed propose that fishing continued in the Baltic Sea, this was
against all scientific advice including from their own
scientific advisory body!
Don't call us, we'll call you
Birds Eye and Iglo also said in their statement that while they
would like to meet with us, "the future leadership of Permira's
frozen food business[...]is not yet finally designated, so we
cannot guarantee their presence." The Unilever letter added that
no decision on Permira leadership would be made before the
beginning of November, although the new CEO has been named.
"'We assume in the meantime...our brands would not continue to
be targetedin public by your organization [Greenpeace] on these
issues,' Unilever said."
We disagree - we think consumers have the right to know what is
ending up in their seafood, and what the brands they are buying
stand for - right now.
Mega fish fingers – 100 percent fish, 30 percent illegal?
Also, it's quite strange that apparently no decisions can be
made before November (and more meetings), but yesterday Birds Eye
announced a new product - Captain Birdseye Fish Finger Megas, a
product aimed at "reinvigorating" the fish finger brand. So it
seems it's business as usual at Birds Eye, at least on some
Intrafish reported: "The new product uses a larger 100-percent
fillet, and a healthier coating, aimed at reinforcing the notion
that Birds Eye is increasing the quality of its products, and
bringing 'new and lapsed consumers to the brand'. "
We'd like to know what exactly that "100-percent fillet" is. Is
it 100 percent legal cod? We doubt it. We also would like to know
that Birds Eye is increasing the quality of their products - but in
our case, that means a public statement on how they and Iglo will
take real, concrete steps to ensure that pirate fish doesn't end up
in your Mega Fish Finger. Otherwise there may be a lot more of
those lapsed consumers.
Tell Birds Eye and Iglo that you would like to know (and now!) how they will tackle illegal fish in their products.