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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 13:26 GMT
Fear and hope over fishing report
Fish in Whitstable
Will consumers react to news about fish stocks?
Global fish stocks could be almost eliminated within 50 years if current trends continue, says a major scientific study.

The UK Government is considering its response to the report, published in the journal Science, but it has ruled out a ban on cod.

Meanwhile, other people connected to the fishing industry have been responding to the report.

ENVIRONMENTALIST - MARINE CONSERVATION SOCIETY

The report backs up what scientists round the world have known for years - that the majority of targeted fish stocks are in decline.

We believe that all levels involved from national government to industry to supermarkets and to consumers need to be involved and contributing to an improvement.

Our seas need a network of protected areas to address the sharp decline in fisheries - at present less than one per cent of UK seas is closed to damaging fisheries

There is a wide variety of fish available for consumers, which is labelled as being from stocks not at risk and fished using methods which are not damaging. We recommend a website fishonline.org for this.

Supermarkets have got better but we still need to make inroads into ready-meals and illegally caught fish.

FISH & CHIPS - HARRY RAMSDEN'S

It is our policy to provide great quality, affordable fish & chips in a responsible manner, heeding the needs of the environment as well as those of our customers.

Harry Ramsden's fully supports the principles behind the Responsible Fishing Scheme operated by the Seafish Authority, and wherever practical we endeavour to work with suppliers who also take a responsible approach to environmental issues relating to fishing practices.

Our fish is sourced from two stocks - wild and farmed. Most of our fish comes from the Barents Sea, Faroe Islands and Norway.

None of our fish comes from endangered stocks within UK waters. We monitor fish sources on an ongoing basis, and work closely with our suppliers to realign supplies as necessary.

EX-CONSUMER - JOHN SUTHERLAND, 25

Six months ago I gave up eating fish and seafood - having already stopped eating cod - because of the damage done to the ocean floor by fishing trawlers.

Potentially 70% of the oxygen cycle is within coral reefs and plankton but it is being damaged every day. So I took a decision that until more research is done about how to turn what they do into a sustainable business, it's not something I want to be part of.

If a tree dies, you can plant another one but you can't do anything with coral.

SEA FISH INDUSTRY AUTHORITY- JOHN RUTHERFORD

The report appears to ignore all the positive work that has taken place in our industry.

Measures include voluntary closure by the fishing fleet of areas around our coast; huge growth in certification of sustainable fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council; more robust seafood sourcing policies from our large retailers giving consumers confidence when they are buying fish; and massive strides within industry towards managing our fisheries for a healthy future.

We need to review this report in detail to fully understand its source data and methodology, and are commissioning scientists to undertake this work on our behalf.

We need to understand if there are things we can learn from the research to help us on the path we are already travelling.

BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM - KEVIN HAWKINS

For the last couple of years our supermarkets have been leading the field in sourcing fish from sustainable sources.

Members of the Marine Stewardship Council have been working with environmental groups like Greenpeace to get more sustainable fish on their shelves. Customers will see it is clearly marked and it carries the Marine Stewardship Council logo.

The problem is that globally only 1-2% of the world's fish comes from sustainable fisheries so supply is limited and it's relatively expensive.

There's no point in the UK retailers being world leaders if nobody else is following.

And supermarkets are not the only places you can buy fish. Restaurants, fast food outlets and fish and chip shops will have to get on board as well.

FISH MERCHANT - ANDREW GOOCH

We've played second fiddle to the farmers for far too long.

We really do need to have more funding, more backing, and certainly more support, not just a local level, but on a national level.

FISHERIES BIOLOGIST - DOUGLAS HIRDSON

The ecosystem, of course, is all the life in the sea and its environment interacting. It's a web, the web of life, the food web.

And when you take away one part of that, the whole thing gets seriously distorted or can collapse.

And so it's not just whether there's going to be enough fish, although that's terribly important because 20% of the world's population depend on fish for protein, but also other things - recreation, tourist industry, but also things like sea defences, that depend on mangrove swamps and coral in parts of the world.

REPORT CO-AUTHOR - DR NICOLA BEAUMONT, PLYMOUTH MARINE LAB

At the moment, this is one of the most comprehensive studies that's been undertaken so this is really a reasonable estimate of what we think will happen if we continue our current action.

We need to have a series of measures. We need to think about marine reserves, or marine protected areas, because they been shown to really turn things around.

In addition to this, it's not just fishing that's impacting [on] the marine environment. It's also pollution, it's climate change, it's ocean acidification, destruction of our marine habitats. So just focusing on the fisheries industry is not the way forward.


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