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Fishy dishy
Harrods Food Hall, Issue 1618
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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."

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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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