Use your wallet as a weapon
According to the World Bank, more than 90% of global marine fish stocks are either fully exploited or officially overfished. Overfishing – where fish are caught faster than stocks can be replenished – can lead to the total collapse of fish populations if not managed properly.
To help counteract the effects of overfishing, it is vital that we choose fish that has been caught sustainably.
The cost of overfishing
Overfishing has not only resulted in a 39% decrease of marine species in the last 40 years, but it also leads to bycatch: when unwanted sea creatures are caught by accident while fishing for specific species and then discarded as waste. It has been estimated that, globally, unsustainable fishing practices result in a staggering 38.5 million tonnes of bycatch – and the death of billions of animals – each year.
Lending our support
We support the work of the Marine Conservation Society, highlighting the fish stocks that are under threat and suggesting alternatives.
Sustainable fishing practices are not only important for marine life and habitats, but for communities who depend on the sea for their livelihoods. Around 12% of the world’s population rely on fishing for an income, while 40% rely on fish as their main source of nutrients.
What exactly does ‘sustainably sourced’ mean?
In order for fish and seafood to be considered as sustainably sourced by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), companies must:
- Fish in a way that doesn’t negatively affect the habitat or the stability of the ecosystem
- Fish particular species to avoid overfishing and population collapse
- Catch fish using humane methods that avoid bycatch or entanglements
- Reduce the loss of gear, such as nets and lines, and minimise the impact of ghost gear (derelict fishing equipment)
- Not engage in the practice of shark finning (cutting off shark fins for commercial purposes and then throwing the shark back in the water to die)
What can you do?
We can all make a difference by carefully choosing what fish we consume:
- Keep an eye out for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) logos when buying fish at the supermarket; the MSC certifies that wild fish stocks are fished in a sustainable way and the ASC certifies that farmed fish have been raised in an environmentally and socially responsible manner
- Check out brands and products that contain fish, including items like pet food
- If your favourite brands haven’t got on board with sustainable fishing practices, then why not email them and ask them to change their practices
- Familiarise yourself with the Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide to help you choose more sustainable species of fish and seafood
- Buy local, when possible, to cut down on food miles