Appeal for responsible fish and seafood consumption
Abundant fish supplies in supermarkets and restaurants are deceptive. Soon, fish will vanish from our dinner plates. Giant industrial fishing fleets systematically plunder the seas and, as a consequence, kill hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sharks, birds and turtles worldwide as bycatch.
Almost 90% of commercial fish species are currently fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not curb our appetite for fish and seafood, these resources will disappear in about 30 years. Marine animals, and the three billion people who depend on the oceans for food, will face severe hunger.
To meet the growing demand for aquatic food, aquaculture production of fish is increasing. Yet, many of these breeding farms are not a solution. They mainly feedlot predatory species, which in turn must be fed with wild fish from the oceans, boosting overfishing even more.
Influence on European fisheries
For decades, the EU has failed to make fisheries more sustainable and many fish stocks in European waters are now endangered. OceanCare has focused significant effort on the reform of European fisheries. In 2014, the EU Parliament decided to award subsidies only to fishermen who operate sustainably. Illegal fishing will be punished with stiff fines, and ships from outside the EU, which repeatedly violate EU laws, are no longer allowed into EU ports. Since 2015, drift net fishing is entirely banned, too. These are important steps in the right direction!
OceanCare works hard to cooperate with traditional coastal fishermen. In the Gulf of Amvrakikos and around the island of Kalamos, 100 local fishermen were interviewed about their catches and possible conflicts with dolphins and monk seals. In the Gulf of Euboae and in the Argolic Gulf, 57 and 60 fishermen were interviewed, respectively. Their information demonstrated that fish catches had dramatically declined over the past 20 years. Waste water and chemical pollutants are threats adding to industrial exploitation. OceanCare has called on the Greek Government and the EU to tighten the fisheries laws and to protect ecologically sensitive marine areas. The fishermen of Kalamos have voluntarily enlarged the mesh size of their nets and also work to protect fish during their spawning season.
Switzerland should protect fish more consistently
OceanCare participated in the consultation on a regulation on the lawful origin of imported seafood. This regulation will ban the import of seafood products from so-called IUU fishing (illegal, unreported, unregulated), which doesn’t respect quotas nor protected areas, and significantly damages fish stocks.
In terms of animal welfare, OceanCare supports the campaigns of the Swiss organisation fair-fish. As part of the revision of the Ordinance of foodstuffs, the call for an obligation to declare fishing methods and the origin of fish in retail stores and restaurants has already been partially implemented. Since May 2018, the origin must be declared for open sales and for packaged fish products both the origin and category of the fishing gear must be indicated – this regulation is legally binding after expiry of the transitional period, i.e. from May 2021.
There has also been an initiative to ban imports of live lobsters. Since March 2018, live crawfish may only be cooked when anaesthesised. In addition, they must be held and transported with greater care. Although they may be cooled, they may no longer be transported directly on ice or in ice water. However, a general import ban for lobsters could not gain a majority, which means that the purchase of lobsters that were kept contrary to the newly valid regulations of Switzerland is still permitted.
Responsibility rests with all of us
In the absence of sufficient government interventions, we, as consumers, need to make even more conscious choices:
- Buy local freshwater fish no more than once a month and refrain from saltwater fish.
- If you cannot refrain from eating saltwater fish once in a while, make sure it is from a sustainable, certified catch or organic aquaculture.
- Don’t buy krill, seal and fish oils. Farmed algal, linseed and canola oil are more sustainable sources for Omega-3 fatty acids.