McDonalds to switch to sustainable fish

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The fast food chain McDonalds is to bow to consumer pressure and switch the fish used in their fish burgers to sustainable varieties.

Starting in October the 100 million Filet-o-Fish sandwiches sold in Europe every year will bear the blue Marine Stewardship Council’s label.

McDonald’s has 7,000 restaurants across 39 European countries and as such this is one of the highest-profile marine eco-labelling deals ever announced, with the MSC receiving 0.5 percent of the cost of the fish filets it certifies.

The fish used will be from four species; Eastern Baltic cod, haddock, Alaskan Pollock and New Zealand hoki.

Joanna Trigg, a McDonald’s spokeswoman in London, is quoted saying that the chain sought the label because: “We recognised that using the M.S.C. eco-label would enable our customers to make sustainable choices without them having to change their behaviour.”

The move hasn’t been without its critics however, with some environmentalists criticising the certification of the bottom trawled hoki and some Pollock. Xavier Pastor of the Oceana marine conservation group said that while they were pleased that there is an obvious growing demand for sustainability in fisheries that there need to be clear guidelines.

“This is just one step,” Mr Pastor, of Oceana, said. “The definition and boundaries of sustainability still need to be sorted out; particularly regarding the labelling of products caught using destructive fishing practices. We cannot consider bottom-trawling fisheries to be sustainable since the impact that this fishing gear has on sea beds causes more damage to our already exhausted ocean ecosystems.”

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