Sustainable Fish: Responsible sourcing from sea to shelf

We understand that our customers look to us to deliver products that do not harm the environment and we encourage responsible fishing practices to ensure the future supply of plentiful fish stocks. We take this custodianship very seriously and insist on adherence to rigorous standards from sea or farm to shelf.

Iceland has developed five guiding principles that will ensure all Iceland own brand fish and seafood is 100% responsibly sourced. Our product specifications will be developed to ensure compatibility with these principles:

  • Traceability – We require suppliers to have traceability of all of our fish and seafood to a specific vessel, so that we can document the method of capture and ocean or area of capture. We then make this information available to you, our customers.
  • Transparency – We want you to be able to make choices about the food you buy based on accurate and understandable information. All of Iceland own brand primary fish* is labelled with the official name at the point we sell it (called its commercial designation), scientific name, relevant detailed geographical area and category of fish production method.
  • Risk assessing our supply chain – We monitor our supply chain in great detail. If we think there are areas of potential weakness, then we work with our suppliers to satisfy ourselves that it is caught or farmed in a responsible way.
  • Responsible sourcing decisions – Our buying team is continually reviewing our products to ensure that the supplier has an individual action plan in place and we know what steps our suppliers are taking to deal with any risk factors.
  • Doing the right thing – If we feel there are any areas that still pose potential risks, we carefully monitor the situation with the supplier and request adjusted management plans if required.

*When we say “fish”, it has a broad definition covering fish, crustaceans and molluscs whether, breaded, battered or plain. “Primary fish” is defined as products that have not been processed other than filleting and being cut into portion sizes.

Click here to find out where we source our fish.

Working with stakeholders

The wide-ranging natural habitats seen in our seas and oceans are diverse and complex. To understand them, and thus to care for them, requires in-depth understanding and expertise. We seek to work with many experts and use their knowledge to improve our fish sourcing policy.

We have made a significant effort to obtain MSC certification for an increasing number of our own-label products, with 76% certification across our range. In 2022 Iceland were the retailer with the largest percentage range of products which were MSC certified, we also won MSC UK Newcomer of the year in 2020. 

By choosing the blue MSC ecolabel on products at Iceland, you can be sure that the seafood you’re buying has been caught by fishermen that care and has been independently certified to the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. You’ll be supporting a well-managed fishery that meets regular sustainability targets and protecting the fishermen’s livelihoods, communities and traditions. Learn more of what the blue MSC ecolabel means to you here.

Iceland believes it is critical that the workers and communities involved in the seafood supply chain are treated with respect. We have joined the Seafood Ethics Action Alliance (SEA Alliance) to be part of industry-wide efforts to improve Human Rights Due Diligence and to advocate for improvements in regulation and enforcement at an international level.

Sea-caught fish and seafood

Suppliers of Iceland own brand fish and seafood are encouraged to use practices that minimise discards and that avoid capture of immature or undersized fish. A risk assessment must be undertaken to identify the environmental impact of the fishing, including seabed damage and protected areas.

Species must be managed in accordance with key scientific indicators, and we ask all of our suppliers to ensure that practical measures are taken to maintain breeding populations which are capable of sustaining or growing the current fish stocks. We will continue to follow the research produced by fisheries experts very closely.

Tuna is a household staple and is used in many of our fish products. One of the principal concerns regarding tuna fishing is the inadvertent capture of sea mammals and other fish. This has often been linked with practices including the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs). For this reason, all Iceland own brand tuna steaks must be sourced from fisheries employing line and pole or hand line fishing methods and not using FADs.

Farmed fish and seafood

Much of Iceland own brand farmed fish is already certified to an internationally recognised aquaculture standard. In particular, we are seeking to meet the standards set by:

  • Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) – Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) minimum 3*
  • Global G.A.P
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

Responsible sourcing is not just about the end products you see on our shelves, it extends much further down the supply chain. Many experts have expressed concerns about certain practices of sourcing fishmeal and fish oil that are used to feed farm-reared species. Iceland policy also highlights best practices, to ensure the feed is from responsible, well managed stocks.