Catch O’ the Day: Waste

Shifting gears a bit, let’s talk about fishing. In a real quirk of conservation, an attempt to preserve falling fish stocks leads to waste in the British fishing industry.

To comply with the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (and prevent a tragedy of the commons), commercial fishing boats in waters near Britain must throw back tons of fish because they are underweight or the ship has surpassed its quotas on certain species.

Atlantic Cod (photo from Wikipedia)According to a Center for Environment Fisheries & Aquaculture (CEFAS) study, British fishermen are tossing back 63 percent of all the fish caught (by number) and 35 percent (by weight).

The problem: only 1 percent of those thrown back survive. Doug Beveridge, assistant chief executive of Britain’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, voices my main point:

It really is a shocking waste. Not only are the fish killed unnecessarily – the economic value has been lost and the source of food to the consumer – but they are no longer there to reproduce so it is a double whammy.

Iceland, however, has taken a different approach in keeping fishermen out of certain areas. By doing that, I’m guessing, there’s less waste than simply catching lots and tossing more than half back. While this does hurt the Icelandic fishing industry in the short term, it ensures more sustainable fisheries and a healthier future.

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