There's a fascinating article about dwindling fish stocks and their unlikely saviours by Frank Pope in today's copy of The Times. Not too much tub thumping either. His conclusion includes the fact/statement that it would be cheaper to create highly-protected marine reserves than enforce the £8bn to £16bn spent on fishing subsidies every year. There's a link to The End of the Line, the film he mentions, here.
"Could this be the end of the line?
Supermarkets may make unlikely environmental heroes, but they are leading changes in public behaviour, fishery practices and government policy in the fight against overfishing. Threatened by a future with no fish to sell, they are doing something about it.
When Waitrose did a survey last month it found that more than three quarters of us do not make any attempt to buy sustainable seafood, mostly thanks to a widespread ignorance about crashing fish stocks around the world. Talk to the guys behind the fish counter, and they will tell you the same thing - no one asks where the fish comes from or how it is caught.
Customer pressure is usually the main driver of supermarket behaviour. Cynics may say that in a world where environmental credentials are valuable, there is incentive to promote the next Fair Trade or organic standard. But the leading supermarkets - not just Waitrose, but Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, the Co-op, Asda and Tesco's among others - are pushing for change because doing nothing would soon mean they have no fish to sell.
The facts are often repeated. Only eight of the forty-seven fish stocks around the UK are in a healthy state. Some 80 per cent of EU fisheries are either fully or over-exploited. And if current practices continue, worldwide fishery collapse is predicted by 2048.
Between 80 and 90 per cent of all fish caught in the UK goes through supermarkets, making them the major player in fisheries behaviour. (This is a fairly recent role - in 1982 independent fishmongers ruled, and only 10 per cent went through the supermarkets.) Shifting such volumes allows them a perspective denied to the average omega-3-hunter at the fish counter. It is hard to tell when a cod from Newfoundland is replaced by a cod from Iceland, but the supermarkets notice when they have to change supplier because a stock has crashed.
That they have chosen to act is an indication of how serious things are...(read the rest of the article here)"
Here's a trailer of the film: