Jan 14

Fish Fight is galvanising a nation into action. Did you know around half of the fish caught by fishermen in the North Sea are unnecessarily thrown back into the ocean dead? This week on UK TV Britain’s top TV chefs dive into the seas to tell us why this is happening and what we can do to stop it.

Populations of the Atlantic cod are outside safe biological limits and may soon collapse

Populations of the Atlantic cod are outside safe biological limits and may soon collapse

Channel Four has been airing the Big Fish Fight, throughout the course of the week. Led by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall uncovering the shocking amount of fish from UK waters wasted as discard, Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal have been dishing out sustainable fish recipes, while Gordon Ramsay will take viewers on a harrowing journey into the world of shark fin soup – a topic that we’ve covered before on the ARKive blog.

What Fish Fight is all about

The world’s commercial fish stocks are in trouble, half are fully exploited and another quarter are overfished. Many modern fishing practices such as trawling and long-lining are not selective, non-target species are brought out of the seas and then discarded as waste, turtles, dolphins, seabirds and other fish species are all seriously affected.  

Bycatch brought up by a commercial trawler

Bycatch brought up by a commercial trawler

The obstacles

  • Selective consumers:

According to Fish Fight more than half of the UK’s fish consumption is comprised of just three species; cod, tuna and salmon. Countless other fish are perfectly tasty, but are unfashionable to eat – they go down the discard shoot.

  •  EU Quotas:

The EU sets catch limits for certain species through the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). If a vessel goes over its quota for a fish, or if it isn’t allowed to land that species, the surplus is thrown overboard before the fishermen get a hefty fine.

Northern bluefin tuna stocks are likely to collapse within the next 15 years

Northern bluefin tuna stocks are likely to collapse within the next 15 years

What can you do? 

Now is the perfect time to raise this issue. In 2012 the EU will be reforming the Common Fisheries Policy and your voice can help influence the policy makers.

Diversify your fish eating habits:

Consumers have a massive influence on what gets thrown overboard. By choosing to eat less popular, but still very tasty fish such as mackerel, pollock, flounder and gunard, whilst avoiding cod, tuna and salmon, we can make a big difference.

 The resources below can help you make sustainable choices in the fish you eat:

 Sign up to the Fish Fight campaign and support the reforming of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Rob Morgan, ARKive Media Researcher

  • M Schou (January 14th, 2011 at 6:35 pm):

    Denmark and UK have proposed that EU quotas are absolute in the sense that all catches count on the vessel quota and that fishery stop when the quota is exhausted. At present this management trial is being tested on 30 vessels

  • Amy (January 16th, 2011 at 10:21 pm):

    I watched Hugh’s programme on Channel 4 and I cannot believe the rules that mean that they have to throw fish away. I was shocked.

  • Rob (January 18th, 2011 at 10:16 am):

    Looks like the campaign is already having an effect on consumer choices! Let’s hope this continues and influences North Sea fisheries for the better: