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Supermarket giants fish for support

Paul Thomas backs local fishmongers over supermarkets to offer the best supply of fresh caught fish.
Paul Thomas backs local fishmongers over supermarkets to offer the best supply of fresh caught fish. John Mccutcheon

SUNSHINE Coast fishmongers are unfazed over the Coles-Woolworths supermarket war expanding to include wild-caught fish.

Fishmongers say the retail giants' push to further portray themselves as environmentally conscious by removing unsustainable fish species from their shelves will not result in smaller operators taking a financial hit.

They are also sceptical of the genuineness of the retailers' actions, saying they have the distinct air of a PR stunt.

In the latest power play to lure customers, Coles on the weekend announced its fresh wild-caught fish would soon come with Sustainable Choice stickers.

A spokesman for the company said the move followed a year-long review of its fish purchases by World Wildlife Fund Australia marine experts.

Previously, Coles and Woolworths said they had banned threatened species, with the former putting a 2015 deadline on it removing unsustainable species from its shelves.

Woolworths has teamed with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Fund.

The campaigns to espouse their green credentials follow battles over hormone-free beef and heavily discounted milk and bread.

But unlike the milk war, which has taken a hefty toll on numerous dairy farmers, fishmongers do not believe their bottom line will be affected.

Point Cartwright Seafoods owner Paul Thomas said the supermarkets were engaged in a marketing ploy designed to convince customers they were buying fresh fish.

"It's very difficult for organisations such as Coles and Woolworths to supply fresh seafood," he said.

"I can see where they're going with this.

"They're trying to prick people's consciousness because they just don't have the fresh (fish) product to sell in their stores."

A Mooloolah River Fisheries spokesman said the retailers' market dominance "gives them considerable room for manipulation".

However, he added: "They don't really bother us. A large percentage of the product they handle is imported product."

Coles business category manager Jon Haggett said it was important to reassure customers that the seafood they bought was sustainable.

"With WWF having now reviewed all of our fresh-caught fish, we can confidently tell customers which of their favourite fish are not only great quality but also caught in a more sustainable way," he said.

Topics:  coles, jon haggett, paul thomas, sustainable fisheries partnership fund, woolworths


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