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We're fishing responsibly


Waitrose responsible fishing policy

Waitrose considers that the key to making any decision is to balance all available facts and to engage with NGOs (Non Government Organisations) and conservation groups.

For a fish to be termed 'responsible' at Waitrose it must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a species that is not regarded as threatened or endangered
  • Be caught from a well-managed fishery with scientifically based quotas
  • Be caught using responsible fishing methods
  • Be fully traceable from catch to consumer

Species selection

Waitrose will not list any species where there is a common consensus that it is endangered or under threat.

Species may be regarded differently in different fisheries, eg Icelandic cod is recognised as being from a responsible source, North Sea cod is considered under threat. Waitrose does not take the existence of a legal quota or minimum landing weight as evidence of responsible fishing.

Waitrose does accept third-party certification such as MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) as evidence of responsible fishing, but such schemes are currently insufficient to cover the full range of fish that Waitrose sells.

Fishery management

Fisheries used in Waitrose must be able to demonstrate responsible management of the stock through effective quotas based on scientific advice and stock assessments. There should be provision for zone closures to allow protection of spawning and nursery grounds.

Fishing methods

Waitrose uses the least environmentally damaging methods it can for each species. Environmental damage may be physical (destruction of habitat) or ecological (high by-catch or fuel consumption).


Traceability and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Suppliers of Waitrose fish must demonstrate a high level of traceability that eradicates illegally caught fish entering the supply chain. Waitrose regards this as an essential step in preventing what is a very damaging criminal activity that undermines conservation and causes serious economic issues.

"The supply of fully traceable, responsible seafood is vital to the Waitrose business. In today's climate of rising consumer demand, diminishing wild fish stocks and with issues of illegally caught fish, full traceability from catch to consumer is of vital importance". Jeremy Ryland-Langley, Fish Buyer, Waitrose

Aquaculture policy

Waitrose's fish buying policy supports the development of responsible aquaculture; Waitrose is committed to securing its future by working in Partnership with the Soil Association, the MSC and their suppliers.

Waitrose sells a wide range of farmed fish from responsible aquaculture systems including Atlantic salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, warmwater prawns, carp, mussels, oysters, halibut, sea bass and sea bream.

Uniquely, Waitrose does not buy any farmed seafood on the open market. Long-term working partnerships have been established between Waitrose and the farmers who supply the retailer. This allows for long-term planning and early adoption of practices that lead to improved quality and sustainability of the farming operation.

Waitrose has raised the standard of fish farming through the introduction of our Select Farm schemes that focus on high standards of animal welfare and health while minimising impact on the environment and delicate marine ecosystems.