Co-operative shoppers chip n pin to save fish n chips

June 08, 2009

Shoppers at The Co-operative believe our national dish could have had its chips unless the Government introduces marine reserves in the forthcoming Marine Bill.

More than 80 per cent of customers (83 per cent) supported the introduction of highly protected marine reserves in a survey conducted via chip and pin pads at the checkouts of more than 2,200 Co-operative food stores throughout the UK.

360,000 customers took part in the survey and The Co-operative is writing to every MP ahead of the first reading of the Marine Bill in the House of Commons to tell them of the level of backing marine reserves have amongst their constituents.

Additionally, to help support a sustainable UK fishing industry, The Co-operative today (8 June), World Oceans Day, announced the first recipients to benefit from a  £200,000 fund it has set up to help support fisheries complete the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification process.

This funding will support the assessment to MSC standard of Dover sole, megrim sole and monkfish from the south west, hake from Cornwall, sea bass from Devon, and will also support the pre-assessment of the entire Sussex in-shore fishery, a UK first.

“Our vision is for healthy, productive and diverse UK seas with successful sustainable fisheries interspersed with an ecologically coherent network of marine reserves, with each complementing the other and ensuring both the marine environment and UK fishing industry have a long term future”, explained Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability at The Co-operative.

”Once common species such as common skate and Atlantic halibut are now listed as critically endangered and only eight of the 47 fish stocks found around the British Isles remain in a healthy state. The situation is now so bad that cod and haddock catches in the UK are respectively just 26 per cent and 40 per cent of what they were only ten years ago.

“Without radical intervention this alarming decline will continue. Marine reserves have been shown to be effective in helping ecosystem and fish stock recovery, and there is evidence that within a period of 5-10 years there is likely to be an increase in catches in surrounding fisheries as a result.”

Commenting upon the chip and pin vote, Paul Monaghan added, “It is important that MPs understand the level of support there is for highly protected marine reserves as the Marine Bill progresses through Parliament over the coming weeks”.

The vote was undertaken as part of The Co-operative’s Marine Reserves Now campaign, being run in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). The campaign is calling for the Marine Bill to include a clear statutory duty to designate an ‘ecologically coherent network’ of marine reserves which would include highly protected marine reserves closed to commercial fishing.