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Are we overfishing in our waters?

  • by JW

“Brown crab could be taken off menu because of overfishing [Cornwall Live] “Mackerel is no longer a sustainable choice” [Marine Conservation Society] “Torbay locals have been locked in a battle with fishing gangs.” [Devon Live]


A new report from the Oceana conservation NGO is “demanding an overhaul of the government’s catch limits”:

Half of the UK’s key fish populations are overfished or in a critical state:

  • Half of the ‘top 10’ UK fish stocks are overfished or have been reduced to a critically low size.
  • Many cod populations are in crisis, pushing this iconic British fish towards collapse.
  • Government-set catch limits that exceed scientific advice are driving these fish populations into decline.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef and campaigner who wrote the foreword to the report, said: “The stark fact is that overfished stocks have one thing in common: they are on course for collapse. If that is allowed to happen, the human livelihoods will go with them just as fast as the marine ecosystems they support. Our government needs to step up today to prevent the UK from losing its fish and starving its seas.”

The report has been covered by the Geographical magazine, stating that “Britain’s fish stocks are heading for collapse”.

The Guardian today also carries the report, highlighting how Britain’s fish populations are in a ‘deeply troubling state’:

Oceana found that repeated political decisions to set catch limits higher than scientifically advised continues to lead to overfishing. Six stocks that were a healthy size in 2020 have now declined to a critical state, and only three stocks have moved from being critically low to healthy since 2020.

In response to the Taking Stock report, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said it had announced a package of reforms in the summer which marked a “clear departure from the outdated EU common fisheries policy and which will deliver a profitable fishing industry underpinned by sustainable fish stocks and a healthy marine environment for the future”.

Back in January, the Mail was reporting that Oceana had found that North Sea cod, herring and crab were in a ‘critical state’:

Overfishing has put 60 per cent of the UK’s fish stocks at risk of collapse — with North Sea cod, crab and herring among those in a critical state, a report has warned. The audit — by marine conservation charity Oceana — found that only 37 of the 104 stocks examined were of a healthy size and only 38 were exploited sustainably. Oceana is calling on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to follow scientific guidance when setting catch limits to preserve our fish.

 Meanwhile, as reported by Cornwall Live, brown crab could be taken off menu because of overfishing; the Marine Conservation Society has warned that “mackerel is no longer a sustainable choice”; and Devon Live warns that “Torbay locals have been locked in a battle with fishing gangs” due to overfishing.