Documenting—in easy-to-understand terms—how global fishing trends are affecting global fish stocks and fishers, and how consumer choices can make a difference.
Experts estimate that 75% of fish stocks are overfished, or fished at their biological limit—putting at risk marine and coastal ecosystems and the livelihood of the fishermen that depend on these resources. From a consumer’s point of view, however, the current condition of fish stocks is not apparent. There are still plenty of fish in the markets, and fish that before were only available “in season” can now be purchased year-round. What is really happening to our fish stocks and marine and coastal ecosystems? Are we really running out of fish?
Unfortunately, our knowledge and understanding of the marine environment has been lagging behind our capacity to develop new technologies to find and capture fish. Global data on the condition of fish stocks, coastal ecosystems, and on the fishers who catch and depend on these fish, are still highly incomplete, disguising the impact of the global fishing enterprise on people and marine resources. The general public, for the most part, is not aware of the fisheries crisis and therefore not encouraged to influence policy and the industry’s behavior.
When consumers become aware of the consequences of their purchasing choices on the livelihoods of small scale fishers and the health of ecosystems, their demands will translate into better managed fisheries. Public support for well-managed stocks, for example, creates incentives for industry to take the necessary measures to reduce destructive fishing practices. Public pressure on policy makers to adopt not-so-popular policies to regulate fishing effort can also go a long way to improving the way we manage fisheries.
The primary objective of this project is to educate the consumers, epecially in the US, Japan and Europe, by producing an easy-to-understand report on the condition and trends of the world’s fisheries and fishers, with particular emphasis on the use of actively towed gears that target benthic resources, such as bottom trawling, which is considered one of the most destructive fishing gears in use.