Supermarkets dropping unsustainable shrimp

Large prawns not WWF-approved to be pulled from shelves

Large warm water prawns, often called tiger shrimp or tiger prawns, are one of the most popular frozen seafoods in Denmark. Some 5,000 tonnes of the tasty crustaceans were imported in 2012, many of which were reared under questionable circumstances.

But, starting in mid-April, all prawns sold in shops operated by Dansk Supermarked, including Netto, Bilka and Føtex stores, will be certified by the WWF’s Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

“That means that the conditions under which the prawns are produced are monitored by an independent third party,” Dansk Supermarked spokesperson Helene Regnell told Politiken newspaper.

Few farms make the grade
The ASC is an initiative of the WWF, and is recognised as the most sustainable certification of fish and seafood farms. 

Prawn farmers in Southeast Asia have only recently started to meet the requirements for the certificate, which include restricting the use of antibiotics, avoiding stressed and sick fish coming in contact with wild populations and limiting the consumption of fresh water and energy.

The production of tiger prawns occurs primarily in marsh and coastal areas in Vietnam, China, Bangladesh and Thailand. The methods used by producers have been under attack for several years.

Prawns on drugs
In 2012, a batch of imported Vietnamese prawns examined by European food authorities tested positive for a dangerous antibiotic.

The intensive production methods used by the farms require large quantities of drugs and antibiotics to avoid the prawns becoming infected with diseases. 

Despite the warnings, supermarkets in Denmark were reluctant to stop selling prawns.

“Prawns are very popular among our customers, but we are also concerned for the environment, so we are glad that we can now offer ASC certified prawns,” said Regnell.

Coop not on board…yet
After the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in 2012 ran a campaign focusing on the negative impact of warm water shrimp farming, Coop in Sweden banned the sale of prawns in 700 shops. 

Danish Coop stores, which, among others, include Kvickly, Fakta and SuperBrugsen, have kept uncertified prawns on the shelves.

“Our plan is eventually to have ASC certified prawns, but we do not have a precise date as to when we can fulfil that plan,” Coop spokesperson Jens Juul Nielsen told Politiken. “We cannot currently buy enough ASC-labeled shrimp to cover the demand.”

Gitte Seeberg,the secretary general of WWF, is thrilled that Dansk Supermarked is going with certified prawns.

READ MORE: WWF's fish guide red flags Danish prawns

It would be great if everyone did what Dansk Supermarked is doing,” she said.

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