Across the world more than one billion people rely on fish for their food and livelihoods. With 75% of fish stocks fully- or over-exploited and predictions of global fisheries collapsing by 2048, urgent action must be taken to secure our marine resources. The latest edition of Food Ethics magazine takes a close look at the state of our seas.
Our contributors reveal that while the problems we face are critical, they are reversible. Initiatives by governments, NGOs, the retail sector and fishing communities are all making a difference around the world.
Writers who contributed their expert views in this edition include Hugh Raven (Soil Association Scotland), Ellen-Marie Forsberg (fisheries ethicist), Huw Irranca-Davies (UK Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment), Rick Stein (seafood chef), Caroline Bennet (founder of sushi chain Moshi Moshi), Rupert Howes (Marine Stewardship Council), Emily Howgate (Seafood Choices Alliance) and John Lynham (University of Hawaii) among many others.
In the UK we are on the cusp of making an important decision about the seas that surround our island and provide a living for 13,000 people working in the UK fishing industry. The Marine and Coastal Access Bill is expected to become law in the summer, and is in its final stages in the Houses of Parliament.
It is an historic chance to safeguard fishing and marine ecosystems into the future, and as such, it must be bold in ambition and scope – both in safeguarding UK fishing communities and in protecting marine ecosystems at home and abroad.
The Marine Reserves Now! campaign, highlighted in the magazine, argues that for Bill to be truly effective it must include a commitment for 30% Highly Protected Marine Reserves, a network of Marine Protected Areas, and a tightening of laws around damaging protected areas.
As well as urging government to strengthen the Marine Bill, those of us committed to sustainable fishing have an unusual opportunity to encourage ‘joined-up’ policy. The Food Standards Agency has for the first time launched a consultation into how it can square its nutritional advice on fish with sustainable development, and it’s a thorny issue – so it needs your help! You can contribute to the consultation until the end of March 2009.
Last but not least, we can all do our bit to ensure that the fish we eat come from sustainably managed fisheries. We can make a difference as individuals, but the retailers who buy on our behalf wield the most clout. Buying fish only from certified sustainable fisheries is the most powerful way to support sustainable fishing, and the Food Ethics Council calls on all British supermarkets to make this commitment.
Shoppers don’t expect to buy fish from threatened stocks, and the sooner those are taken off the fishmonger’s slab, the better.
Download the magazine by clicking the link below.