Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

Are many Northeast Atlantic fish stocks really being fished sustainably?

Are many Northeast Atlantic fish stocks really being fished sustainably?  A new paper by Dr Paul Fernandes (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Robin Cook (University of Strathclyde) suggests they are….

“Contrary to common perception, the status of our fish stocks is improving…… many of our stocks are not overfished; nature now needs to take its course for these fish to rebuild their populations.”


The researchers assessed some 44 commercially important stocks over a 60 year period to see how they performed against EU targets for spawning stock biomass needed to support a maximum sustainable yield (the maximum amount of catch that can be taken from a stock over an indefinite period of time without sending the stock into a spiralling downward trend.   They calculated 77% of the assessed stocks are fished at sustainable levels.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that these claims are already the source of controversy.  It all comes down to how we define sustainable – Professor Callum Roberts (University of York) describes the issue to the BBC

“At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, politicians committed to re-build fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels by 2015. The MSY describes the largest catch that can be taken from a fish stock over an indefinite period without harming it.  As time went on, it became more and more apparent that there was no way they could re-build stocks to those levels by that target year, so a less ambitious target was adopted, which is that fishing mortality rates need to be brought down by 2015 to a point where fish stocks can be re-built to MSY levels by some future date.”

And when exactly is that future date?  Well….that’s another question.

All three researchers do agree on one thing thought – we aren’t out of the woods yet…

“it is notable that most cod stocks remain in a poor state despite increasingly stringent management measures. There is a continuing problem of discards, which now involves marketable fish and exposes a significant weakness in the [Common Fisheries Policy] that needs to be addressed in the proposed reforms for 2014”

You’ll need access to the journal Current Biology  (or pay) if you want to read the original paper… here is the link

To read more on maximum sustainable yields, have a look at Wikipedia


Image: Fishmonger by the harbour at Lyme Regis. Credit Heather Cowper/Flickr /   (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Sustainable Seafood

QR codes for your fish dinner

So you know when you’re tucking into something tasty in a sushi bar and you turn to your friend and say “I wonder what this actually is….is it even sustainable?”….

No?  Oh….

Well if you did the information you crave might not be that hard to find, thanks to a creative piece of thinking by San Diego based restaurant Harney Sushi.  They have come up with the clever idea of attaching QR codes – those funny little squares you can scan with your mobile phone – that take you to the NOAA FishWatch website.  And once you have your information, you don’t have to worry about littering – you can quite happily eat these QR codes along with your sustainably caught fish.

Read the full story from the National Geographic

Image: Made of rice paper, edible QR codes help diners learn about the fish they eat at San Diego’s Harney Sushi. Photograph courtesy of Harney Sushi