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Greenpeace fish protest targets Findus

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10:55 CET+01:00
The environmental organisation Greenpeace conducted a protest action targeting the head office of food company Findus in Malmö on Thursday morning.

Three activists from the organisation climbed up the facade of the building at about 6.30am while their colleagues remained in the ground below. The stunt was intended to draw attention to the company's alleged use of illegally-caught cod, said the group's spokesman Ida Kjellin.

"The point is to make Findus stop selling illegal fish," Kjellin told TT.

The activists hung up a banner on the front of the building with the words 'Stolen fish - empty seas'.

Police have been at the scene but there have been no arrests.

"We're keeping an eye on things," said Lars Mahler at Malmö police.

Ida Kjellin explained that the Greenpeace activists want to try to arrange a meeting with representatives from Findus.

According to the investigative programme Kalla Fakta, shown on TV4 on Wednesday night, a large part of the cod sold in Sweden could come from illegal catches in the Barents Sea. It also revealed that Findus had bought Barents Sea cod from ships fishing over their legal quotas.

"This constitutes a huge threat to the cod stocks, and that is very serious in the Barents Sea, which has the last healthy cod stock in the world," said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ida Udovic.

Norway's ministry of fishery and coastal affairs has estimated that some 100,000 tonnes of cod and haddock are illegally caught in the Barents Sea each year.

"We're asking Findus to stop buying and selling illegally caught fish. There is plenty of legal cod out there. This is simply a question of will for Findus," Udovic insisted.

The Scandinavian company, which sells frozen foods across northern, eastern and central Europe, as well as in France and Thailand, insisted on Thursday that it was strongly opposed to illegal fishing.

"On such short notice we have not had time to check the veracity of the claims (in the documentary), but the accusations are so severe that we have to take the information very seriously," Findus quality director Inger Larsson said in a statement.

Sweden's fisheries minister Ann-Christin Nykvist told TV4 that she could not be held responsible for the unlawful catches.

"You can't put all the blame on me as the fisheries minister for certain boats in the Barents Sea fishing illegally," she said.

Instead, she said that responsibility lies with the companies which deal in the fish and she demanded better control within the fishing industry

Fishing companies, however, believe that the increasing problem of illegal catches is an issue for the authorities.

"Within the EU we have created a system where we have better controls on our boats and within our waters. But now we're talking about countries which are not in the EU, so it's harder to find a system which covers it. We haven't got to the point where we need international cooperation," said Ann-Christin Nykvist to TV4.

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TT/The Local

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