- The first-ever bycatch audit of a major retailer assessed the bycatch risk in UK supermarket Asda’s supply chain.
- The audit identified serious risks to sharks, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.
- Using the results and recommendations of the audit, Asda made a commitment to address issues of bycatch in its supply chain.
In September 2020, SFP released the first-ever bycatch audit of a major retailer, assessing the bycatch risk in fisheries that supply seafood to UK supermarket chain Asda. SFP conducted the audit with Birdlife International and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, with the cooperation of Asda.
A bycatch audit helps companies identify their source fisheries that pose the greatest risk to sharks, sea turtles, marine mammals, and seabirds, and identifies actions to reduce these risks. While Asda, like most retailers, had already committed to not buying any species on the IUCN Red List of endangered species for its main supply, bycatch presented an additional challenge to its seafood sustainability commitments.
Major risks revealed
The audit identified serious risks to sharks, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals from several of Asda’s source fisheries, and recommended actions to deliver changes in those fisheries. Recommendations included changing fishing equipment or techniques, avoiding certain baits, and increasing observer coverage on fishing vessels.
Asda takes action
Using the results of the report, Asda announced in February 2021 that it was making a commitment to address issues of bycatch, particularly in longline tuna fisheries. Asda’s specific commitments for tuna sourcing include strict requirements around catch technology, best practices in mitigation, observer coverage on fishing vessels, and treatment of sharks.
For all seafood products, Asda adopted a procurement policy requiring best practices to reduce bycatch and increase observer coverage, a presumption against sourcing seafood products caught with gillnets whenever possible, and support for technological innovation in reducing accidental harm to wildlife.