Global Fishing Watch

Fisheries

90% of global fisheries are thought to be fully exploited or over-fished (UNFAO, 2014). Global Fishing Watch is a collaboration between SkyTruth, Oceana and Google, who have created this interactive tool where all trackable fishing vessels can be located on a map.

It is currently in the prototype stage and it will be available to the public so that anyone can be aware of, and help monitor, commercial fishing across the globe.

Video explaining the project and plenty more information atglobalfishingwatch.org

Which fish?

Fisheries

Choosing sustainable seafood and making ethical choices can make shopping a daunting task. How are you meant to know which to choose? Several handy guides have been produced to help you quickly identify the more sustainable options. These are just a few:

National Geographic

The National Geographic has produced an interactive ‘Seafood Decision Guide’ which tells you about the species, and where it ranks in terms of sustainability, Omega-3 content and mercury level.

You can find it here: Seafood Decision Guide

Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society ‘Good Fish Guide’ is an easy to read, colour-coded guide which also comes as an app – perfect for quick reference whilst shopping.

Here it is: MCS Pocket Guide

Also check out the Good Fish Guide App on the App Store!

World Wildlife Fund

As this is clearly a global issue, WWF have produced guides for different countries, in different languages.

Links on WWF’s website here: WWF Consumer Guides

Have a browse and check out how sustainable your favourite seafood is – and whether there is a more sustainable option to try!

Marine Conservation Zones

Marine Protected Areas

On the 30th of January 2015 only 23 of the 37 Marine Conservation Zones proposed by DEFRA for UK waters were put forward by the government for public consultation. This is frustrating as it is not the first time this has happened in the UK and proposed areas have fallen through. In 2013, 127 MCZs were proposed and only 27 were actually designated – this is not enough to prevent ecological damage to our seas!
Read more about the campaign for a network of Marine Conservation Zones in the UK here:

Marine Conservation Society

Guardian 30/1/15

Discards – Hugh’s Fish Fight

Fisheries, Step Up For The Sea

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall highlighted the wasteful process of throwing away fish in his ‘Fish Fight’ campaign in 2010, which changed European Fisheries Policy.

At the time of the campaign, 50% of the fish caught in the North Atlantic were being thrown back already dead.

These fish were being discarded as the fishers did not have the quota to be able to bring more than a certain amount of a certain species ashore, meaning the rest had to be thrown away. This was a loophole in European Fisheries Policy before the Fish Fight, but the campaign raised public awareness of the issue and encouraged viewers to tweet, email and post their messages of concern and support, which contributed to the decision by Europe’s politicians to ban discards in 2013. An enormous success for Europe’s fisheries.

Hugh also went on to campaign for more Marine Protected Areas in the UK, and to highlight some of the issues surrounding prawn farming.

Read more about Hugh’s Fish fight here

Watch the episodes of Hugh’s Fish Fight here

Who looks after the high seas?

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The High Seas are the vast areas of the ocean which do not fall under national jurisdiction. These areas, which make up nearly two thirds of the ocean, are effectively open to all who have the resources to access and exploit them. Very little marine protection currently exists for the High Seas, but this is all about to change.

In January 2015, representatives from the member countries of the UN all agreed to work towards creating management practices, such as Marine Reserves, to protect the species and habitats that lie outside national jurisdiction. This is a huge step forward and may take some time, but the most important thing is that all 193 countries have agreed that action must be taken. This agreement has come at a critical time. The more of the marine environment that we can protect from harmful human activities, through the establishment of Marine Reserves, the more biodiversity we can preserve for future generations.

Read more about the High Seas here:

Global Ocean Commission – Importance of the High Seas

Pew Charitable Trusts – UN consensus

Greenpeace – Why we need a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement

#oceanoptimism

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A big part of marine conservation is making people aware of what the problems are. If people don’t know about what’s going on, they won’t know to act or care.

It’s easy to get a bit bogged down in depressing accounts of how we’re taking all the fish, littering the oceans and destroying some fragile marine habitats. But it’s important to remember that it’s not all bad.

Awareness of the problems is leading to some great developments in ocean conservation, both in scientific research and in wider awareness raising, and in the last year or so the hashtag #oceanoptimism has sprung up which makes for cheerier reading.

We’re getting more Marine Protected Areas, starting to deal with some of the plastic in the ocean and are seeing signs of recovery in some fish stocks. It’s early days, but we’re definitely going in the right direction.

Spreading the word about the sea by tagging photos, writing blogs and sharing stories about our amazing marine environment helps inspire a love for the ocean and a sense of ownership over what we’re lucky to have.

There are plenty of positive stories out there and #oceanoptimism is helping to bring them together…check it out on Twitter and join the conversation.

Nets, pots, lines and worse…

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We have become extremely efficient at extracting fish from the oceans. So much so that we are now taking them out at a faster rate than they can replenish themselves. Nearly 30% of global fish stocks were overfished in 2011(SOFIA, 2014).

Bottom trawling, pair trawling, otter trawling

Crab pots, scallop dredging, bottle diving

Longlines, trolling, gill nets

Cyanide, dynamite, electrofishing…

Follow the links below for an overview of some of the ways we catch our fish.

How we catch our fish – MCS

FAO Fishing Gear

How fish are caught – SeaChoice.org

Sea Shepherd – Poison and Blast Fishing