This video recently came to my attention. I was impressed by the simple, direct and informative message. I liked the animation as well. So I had a little look around to see where it came from.
I live in Australia, so hadn’t heard of European Fish Weeks or Ocean2012. But now I’ve read a bit about them, and I’m impressed and glad that they exist.
A coalition dedicated to ensuring that the 2012 reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy stops overfishing, ends destructive fishing practices and delivers fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.
Our vision is of healthy oceans with abundant fish and wildlife contributing to human well being.
Our broad alliance of organisations employs scientific evidence and extensive experience in engaging decision-makers and stakeholders at all levels.
Sounds impressive, and it is. Ocean2012 boasts 168 members across the EU. It is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, along with the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, Ecologistas en Acción, The Fisheries Secretariat, nef (new economics foundation) and Seas At Risk.
Ocean2012 exists to make sure the European Union turns the tide on EU fisheries this year, when the Common Fisheries Policy is reviewed.
Ocean2012 sums it up thus:
“Decades of intensive fishing in European waters have led to dramatic declines in once abundant fish populations. Currently, 63% of fish stocks in the Atlantic are overfished, 82% in the Mediterranean and four out of the six stocks for which scientific advice is available in the Baltic, with over 20% being fished beyond safe biological limits, threatening their very future.
“The European Union’s (EU’s) Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has failed to prevent overfishing. Over 25 years, short-term economic interest and political expediency has landed European fisheries in deep crisis. Continuous overfishing has resulted in less-productive fisheries with a gradual loss of jobs and livelihoods. Fewer and smaller fish are being caught, with greater effort required to find them, which often results in the targeting of other, sometimes even more vulnerable, species.
“The current CFP reform provides an opportunity to make European fisheries economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. There is a need to finally end overfishing and destructive fishing practices in order to deliver fair and equitable use of resources for future generations. Other EU legislation is calling for this. For example, the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSD) aims to achieve Good Environmental Status in Europe’s seas, including ensuring that:
- populations of fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock; and
- all elements of marine food webs… occur at… levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity.
“A fundamental reform of the CFP and its implementation is necessary to achieve these targets.”
The CFP needs to be changed because some fleets are currently overcapacity, thus resulting in overfishing, illegal fishing and political pressure on fisheries ministers to set catch limits above scientific advice. Even though improvements have been made in recent years, fishing limits continue to be set up to 100% above the scientific advice, such as for the 2012 quota for cod in the North Irish Sea and herring in the North Sea. And instead of investment in more sustainable fisheries, the EU continues to subsidise the fishing industry so they can modernise their fleets. Ocean2012 tells us this can lead to people having to pay twice for their fish – once in subsidies and once in the shops.
“The EU has enormous influence on global fisheries management and with this comes considerable responsibility. Its fleet is the third biggest globally and operates in every ocean of the world. It is the largest importer of fisheries products, importing almost 50% of its fish. The EU could be championing sustainable practice at home and abroad. Instead, the level of imports and fishing activities outside EU waters means that the effects of overfishing are being exported, frequently to distant coastal communities that rely on fish for food and income.
Ocean2012 is working for a CFP that:
- enshrines environmental sustainability as the over-arching principle, without which economic and social sustainability is unobtainable;
- ensures decisions are taken at the most appropriate levels and in a transparent way, ensuring effective participation of stakeholders;
- delivers sustainable fishing capacity at EU and regional level;
- makes access to fisheries resources conditional on environmental and social criteria; and
- ensures public funds are only used in a way that serves the public good and alleviates social impacts in the transition to sustainable fisheries”
If you’re still unconvinced, here is another great video about the science behind the CFP reform opportunity.
European Fish Weeks
Whilst I’m wrapped up in my blanket down in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s summer up in Europe right now. Perfect time to get out there and do some campaigning.
European Fish Weeks runs from June 8 – Aug 31. So don’t worry, it’s only halfway through. Perhaps this will be a timely reminder that there is still an opportunity for you to get involved.
The aim is to make your voice heard. Tell politicians to “end overfishing or fishing will be over”. Politicians are responsible for making the decisions that will end overfishing; citizens have the responsibility to encourage and support them in making these decisions.
So I encourage you to get involved if you still can. Visit the Ocean2012 website to see if there any events going on near you, or to set one up. Their website also has translations into Deutsch, Español, Français, ελληνικά, Italiano, Nederlands, Polski, and Português.
If you’re not in the EU
Never fear. There are still many ways in which you can make a difference in your own country. Many of the organisations that support Ocean2012 are international, with programs aimed towards sustainable fishing around the world. I encourage you to check them out.
This a global issue. Even Australia, who claim a fishing industry “ranking among the best-managed in the world”, have 18% of their fish stocks overfished or subject to overfishing; for a further 42% there isn’t enough information to tell the status. That doesn’t sound sustainable to me, or the scientists who have a constant battle for balance in quota setting, or the fishermen who are trying to make a livelihood, or the conservationists who want to make sure that there will always be plenty more fish in the sea.
Be aware of where your fish comes from, how it is produced, and who produces it.
Stay tuned for more on this topic to come. In the meantime, I hope you will join the fight for a sustainable fishing industry. Whoever, and wherever, you are.