Between 40 to 60 percent of the fish that are caught in the North Sea are thrown back dead. In 2011 Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall went on a mission to find out why and ended up starting a grass routes movement that is rewriting government policy called Hugh’s Fish Fight.
The fish are discarded because fishermen generally target one species, but they catch fish in mixed fisheries (i.e. different species of fish swim around in the ocean together, they don’t discriminate, they love each other.) Fisherman don’t want to bring in fish they can’t sell because they’ve fallen out of fashion with modern palates, and fish like cod, and haddock have to be thrown back because they are over-quota. Quotas were established to protect certain species of fish from over fishing. Quotas back fire because the fish are caught anyway and are often dead before they can be returned to the ocean. This means viable food thrown overboard.
Unfortunately, rewriting the Common Fisheries Policy is a complicated business; there isn’t one perfect solution. For example, if you lift quotas completely then fish at great risk of extinction like the Blue Fin Tuna (Toro) could be fish out of existence. Hugh’s Fish Fight recognizes the solution will probably come from a wide variety of ideas and policies. They are working in partnership with a number of environmental and animal welfare NGOs to come up with a solution.
Hugh’s Fish Fight suggests some solutions like, “Expand[ing] the selection of fish that you eat by trying some of the lesser-known species of local fish currently being discarded as trash. In the UK, cod, salmon and tuna account for more than 50% of the fish that we consume, and tasty, exciting and nutritious fish such as flounder, dab, coley and pouting are overlooked and thrown away.”
The other solution is to cut back on your fish consumption, stop eating fish or go vegetarian/vegan, as I have suggested on this blog before.
Whether you’re a die-hard vegetarian or a guy who loves to fish and eat what he’s caught Hugh’s Fish Fight is worth supporting because waste is madness, so sign the petition today!
Images courtesy of Fishfight.net