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Seafood Sustainability Recipe Needed

by the Fish Site Editor
11 February 2011, at 12:00am

GENERAL - The conflict between increasing demand for fish and failing fisheries has enormous implications for world food security and the state of our oceans, lakes and rivers, says the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The global environment organisation was welcoming the latest State of the Worlds Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report, issued in Rome by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

SOFIA 2010 recorded a rise to 85 per cent in the number of fisheries that are fully exploited (53 per cent) or over exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion (32 per cent) while noting a significant trend towards increased demand for fish setting a new record in 2008 of 17 kg live weight equivalent of fish from all sources per person.

Meanwhile, says the report, the proportion of under or moderately exploited fisheries able to produce higher catches is at just 15 per cent the lowest level recorded since the mid 1970s.

In a world likely to face a future of increasing food prices and decreasing food security it is becoming more and more apparent that running down one fishery after another is a disaster in the making, said Alfred Schumm, leader of WWFs global Smart Fishing Initiative.

Mr Schumm is in Vancouver, Canada for the annual Seafood Summit, where WWF is lobbying seafood producers, distributors and retailers to continue to improve an array of measures to increase seafood sustainability including the ability to trace fish products from capture to plate.

There are many promising initiatives and it is important to give recognition to the fisheries and fish farms that have achieved or are working towards operating sustainably. What this report show us is that we cannot relax our efforts to bring long term sustainability to a key element of global food security, Mr Schumm said.

The SOFIA report shows employment in the primary and secondary fish sector supports the livelihoods of about 540 million people, or eight per cent of the worlds population.

Thats a lot of people relying on a sector dependent on a declining resource, at least as far as fisheries are concerned, said Dr Robin Davies, WWF Smart Fishing Initiative deputy leader, who is attending a key fisheries meeting at the FAOs Rome headquarters.

If we dont properly manage our oceans, we face not only an environmental disaster, but a social one too, Dr Davies said.

WWF also welcomed the SOFIA reports emphasis on the need to cut down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

IUU represents the ugly underbelly of global fisheries and we must all rally to eliminate the loud minority that stains the silent majority, Dr Davies said. We hope the SOFIA 2010 report will stimulate nations and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to clamp down and lend support to emerging trade measures such as the EU IUU regulation .

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

the Fish Site Editor