Findus fires fishy suppliers
Sweden — 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.
Working with award-winning journalists from Kalla Fakta‚ a popular Swedish television programme, we helped show the path by which fish illegally caught in the Barents Sea ended up as the viewer's fish dinner. It's estimated that pirate fisheries account for around 30 percent of the cod caught in the Barents Sea and 40 percent of the catch in the Baltic Sea.
Findus, who produce a large range of popular frozen fish products, were shown to be sourcing illegally caught fish from the Barents Sea. Also documented were the strong ties between Findus and dubious seafood companies including the large Danish fish-trader Kangamiut and China-based seafood giant Pacific Andes (alleged to have strong links to illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean).
The morning after the show's screening, we turned up at Findus International headquarters in Sweden to demand an end to their dodgy fish dealing. Our activists told Findus they must guarantee that all their fish products come from legal catches 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 off their contracts with the identified procurers of illegal fish (Danish giant Kangamiut), and to contract an outside auditor to review the sourcing policy of their other suppliers. The company also initiated a "joint Swedish strategy" with the Swedish fish industry to help combat illegal fishing.
According to the Norwegian government about 100,000 tonnes of cod are illegally caught in the Barents Sea each year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization say that over 70 percent of the world's commercial fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted. Illegal fisheries are a big problem that's only getting bigger -- effective measures need to be taken now.
Consumer power: pressure for change
By pressuring food suppliers to act responsibly we can help ensure that the food we eat is not contributing to the destruction of our fisheries and oceans. As Ocean Defenders, we can change the way international companies like Findus work, and on a global scale this can really make a difference.
For Findus just the threat of customers viewing their brand negatively made them take immediate action. Isn't it amazing how much power we consumers really have, especially when we speak with one voice.
"Individually we are a drop... together, we are an ocean."