in the back

Fishy dishy
Harrods Food Hall, Issue 1618
CAUGHT OUT: Harrods has got itself into a tangle over its pricey wild salmon
HARRODS Food Hall describes itself as "the world's greatest food emporium", but customers concerned by the sustainability of their food were less than impressed on a recent visit to the London department store.

Their concern arose at the Harrods fish counter, where a sign read: "River Tweed Wild Smoked Salmon – A rare and decadent treat, a must for all foodies. Line caught on the River Tweed and carefully smoked. £61 per 100g."

It wasn't the shocking price that startled the eco-aware customers, but the fact that the product was wild Atlantic salmon which had been line caught.

Source code
Harrods' food sustainability policy states that: "Where rated we only source seafood from fisheries and farms that are rated 1 to 3 by the Marine Conservation Society and we avoid all seafood that is amber or red rated on the Good Fish Guide".

Wild-caught Atlantic salmon is rated five by the Marine Conservation Society and labelled red for "avoid".

Harrods goes on: "We avoid all seafood that is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species."

Under threat
In December, the IUCN reclassified the main UK population of Atlantic wild salmon as endangered – meaning they are threatened with extinction. The global population of wild salmon was also reclassified, from least concern to near threatened.

The WildFish campaign group said the reassessment means "the UK is set to lose this iconic species first and before anywhere else unless urgent action is taken".

But besides breaching its own sustainability policy, was Harrods also breaking the law by selling wild salmon that had been "line-caught", as its sign boasted? The Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) regulations state: "No person shall sell, offer or expose for sale any salmon that has been taken by rod and line."

Line of interrogation
The Eye asked Harrods if its store realised it was breaking the law by selling "line-caught" salmon.

Not so, the store responded in a statement: "The H Forman & Son wild salmon sold at Harrods is caught on the River Tweed in England and therefore not in breach of the Conservation of Salmon regulations (Scotland) 2002."

As the world's greatest food emporium should know, the rules against the onward sale of line-caught salmon apply in law on any stretch of the River Tweed, Scottish or English.

English law states: "If you buy or sell wild salmon or sea trout in England, it is against the law to sell, offer to sell or barter, fish caught by rod and line." One fisherman on the Tweed does have the right to catch and sell wild salmon, but only by "net and coble", not by line.

Safety net
When the Eye pointed this out to Harrods, it responded that its wild salmon is in fact "not rod and line caught" but caught by net. Right! A spokeswoman said she understood the sign may have caused "confusion" and it would be amended.

This concession did not placate campaigners for the conservation of wild fish. Nick Measham, CEO of WildFish, said: "Harrods is showing breathtaking hypocrisy by ignoring its own fish sustainability policy, which proclaims that it will never sell fish rated 'red' (fish to 'avoid') by the Marine Conservation Society, as is the case with wild Atlantic salmon."

More top stories in the latest issue:

Vladimir Putin's war-funding oil trade needs insurance – and it's the UK that still provides the largest chunk of this, despite promises to clamp down.

A Burnley college and school that share a site were so poorly built they suffer "excessive heat loss", resulting in high bills and classrooms too cold to use.

Despite calls from army chiefs of trouble ahead, the British Army is still shrinking – and the company at the heart of this recruitment shortfall is Capita.

The Eye has discovered that an attempted shake-down of a port company was secretly designed to generate yet more cash for the project's business partners.

A plan to allow prison officers to use a synthetic form of pepper spray on disruptive children in young offender institutions is yet to be enacted.

A tribunal win for two Oxford tutors is big news for academics on precarious zero-hours contracts at UK universities.

Sanctuary Supported Living claims it "truly cares" about its disabled residents, but it has given just three months' notice that a home in Cheltenham is to close.

Residents on the Isle of Wight are learning the hard way who really benefits from private equity investment, thanks to the island's main ferry company.

Tory party donor Mohamed Amersi's hobby of visiting the libel courts with London's most expensive "reputation management" lawyers continues.

While most of the crooks from HBOS Reading fraud are now the back on the street, many victims have yet to be properly compensated.

To read all these stories in full, please buy issue 1618 of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 13th March 2024
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Private Eye Issue 1618
In This Issue
TV highlights: Mrs Badenoch vs the Post Office… Ironyometer finally breaks after Gaza debate ends in fighting… Middle East calls for royal family to stop fighting… Trump forgets to attack Biden’s memory loss… A Russian doctor writes... Tinpot dictatorship in missile failure… Jack and Jill wired differently, says research… Is Prince George heading to St Cake’s?… Shock as news story not about Taylor Swift… The Daily Telegraph online round-up, as told to Craig Brown

Leak outlook
Southern Water’s unwanted flow of data

Shaky ground
Tees Valley mayor Houchen’s friends with benefits

Pump action
MD on heart failure in the UK since Covid struck

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13th March 2024
Private Eye Issue 1617