Knowledge for better food systems

Natural England report: Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability

This report, "Natural England report: Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability", by Natural England highlights the ways in which fishing practices should be adapted to secure more sustainable fish stocks in English waters.
This report, "Natural England report: Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability", by Natural England highlights the ways in which fishing practices should be adapted to secure more sustainable fish stocks in English waters. Key facts from the report are as follows:
  • Fish and shellfish provide around 15% of the world’s protein supply.
  • In 2008, consumers in Great Britain bought 385,000 tonnes of seafood from retail outlets.
  • Imports of fish into the UK increased by 46% from 1998 to 2008.
  • In 2007, 19,000 tonnes of cod were landed into the UK, with a further 115,000 tonnes being imported.
  • In order to meet consumer demand, imports of fish to Europe will need to increase by 15% (or 1.6 million tonnes) by 2030.
  • In the UK, the percentage of fish stocks harvested sustainably and at full reproductive capacity has increased since the 1990s, but remains low at only 25%.
  • All member states at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development undertook to meet Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for fisheries by 2015.
  • In the North Sea, nearly a third of the total catch is discarded annually.
  • 90% of consumers are more likely to buy seafood that is labelled as ‘environmentally responsible’.
The report highlights the following steps to fish sustainability:
  • sustainable sourcing by the food industry;
  • the development and use of certification schemes such as the MSC label;
  • adaptation of fishing gear;
  • measures restricting when or where fishing can occur;
  • the creation of Marine Protected Areas.
Accompanying the report is a survey commissioned by Natural England which finds that three quarters of the UK population would be prepared to pay more for sustainable fish – although they weren’t asked to specify how much more. The Fisheries Secretariat is a useful source of information on the environmental issues associated with fishing.
 

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