Findus fires fishy suppliers

Feature story - 23 January, 2006
In a show of consumer power, Scandinavian frozen food giant Findus has agreed to stop selling illegally caught fish. The people at Findus immediately responded when their company's dealings with pirate fisheries were exposed on Swedish national TV.

Greenpeace activists scaled frozen food giant Findus' headquarters to expose their dealings with pirate fisheries.

We helped show the path by which fishillegally caught in the Barents Sea ended up as the viewer's fishdinner. It's estimated that piratefisheries account for around 30 percent of the cod caught in theBarents Sea and 40 percent of the catch in the Baltic Sea.

Findus, who produce a large range of popular frozen fish products,wereshown to be sourcing illegally caught fish from the Barents Sea. Also documented were thestrong ties between Findus and dubious seafood companies including thelargeDanish fish-trader Kangamiut and China-based seafood giant PacificAndes (alleged to have strong links to illegal fishing in theSouthern Ocean).

The morning after the show's screening, we turned up at Findus International headquarters in Sweden  todemand an end to their dodgy fish dealing. Our activists told Findusthey must guarantee that all their fish products come from legalcatches and not from depleted or unsustainably managed fish stocks.

No floundering: Findus does the right thing

Findus were quick to react to our demands, promising to break offtheir contracts with the identified procurers of illegal fish (DanishgiantKangamiut), and to contract an outside auditor to review the sourcingpolicy of their othersuppliers. The company also initiated a "joint Swedish strategy" with the Swedish fish industry to help combat illegal fishing.

According to theNorwegian government about 100,000 tonnes of cod are illegally caught inthe Barents Sea each year. The United Nations Food and AgricultureOrganization saythat over 70 percent of the world's commercial fish stocks arefully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted. Illegal fisheries are abig problem that's only getting bigger -- effective measures need to betaken now.

Consumer power: pressure for change

By pressuring food suppliers to act responsibly we can help ensure thatthe food we eat is not contributing to the destruction of our fisheriesand oceans. As Ocean Defenders, we can change the way internationalcompanies like Findus work, and on a global scale this can really makea difference.

For Findus just the threat of customers viewing their brand negatively made them take immediate action. Isn't itamazing how much power we consumers really have, especially when we speak with one voice.

"Individually we are a drop... together, we are an ocean."

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