National Fishing Month: There aren’t plenty more fish in the sea
August 27, 2019
With National Fishing Month well and truly underway, there is no better time to gather your fishing rods and your family to enjoy this relaxing pastime. While the organiser’s aim is to increase the diversity and number of people involved in this fin-tastic sport, they also strive to influence decisions about the environmental policy and wildlife management.
Fishing has been a popular sport since its inception in the 15th century, yet the sustained human consumption of fish for over six centuries has taken its toll on the environment and the population of many sought-after species.
Seafood has long been a British favourite, with the UK’s annual prawn imports alone worth over £690 million.
The global market is even more reliant on fish, as more fish is eaten than any other animal protein according to the Environmental Justice Foundation.
Fishing supports the lives of at least 660 million people around the world, yet depleting stocks may signal the end for many fishers and businesses. Current profitability and year-on-year growth of almost 6% within the fishing industry has led to high-density farming which, according to Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return’s report, has led to environmental, social and governance risks.
The UK is one of the biggest markets for cod, a fish and chips staple, consuming around 115 thousand tonnes of the fish each year. While there is a huge demand in this lucrative market, only 15 thousand tonnes of Britain’s annual consumption is sourced from the North Sea.
This small percentage may be due, in part, to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s (ICES) scaled back fishing quotas; there was a 47% reduction last year in the number of cod which could be caught in this already overfished sea.
However, it is evident this implementation has not entirely rectified the situation, as a recent ICES report has called for a further 63% cut in catch due to cod’s critically low levels. Seafood offers companies a huge oppor-tuna-ty for profit, yet businesses’ sustainability stance and ability to prove they have undertaken best practice throughout the supply chain can determine whether or not their brand becomes a turtle disaster.
Sustainability is not only on the minds of governments and environmental charities, but also increasingly environmentally conscious customers.
A survey conducted by GlobeScan on behalf of the Marine Stewardship council found 79% of seafood consumers think fish should be protected for future generations to enjoy, while 70% feel there is a need for brands to independently verify their sustainability claims and a further 65% wanting to know the fish they buy is able to be traced to a known and trusted source.
Increasingly environmentally conscious consumers allow companies engaged with their corporate and social responsibilities to swim ahead of their competition, yet those who refuse are plaiced to lose their market share.
However, it is evident the majority of supermarkets and brands are listening to consumer requests; supermarkets are selling more sustainable fish than ever before, with a 60% rise in the last two years. While it is easy to make claims about sustainability, it is only with evidence of the entire supply chain and proof of the fish’s provenance that companies can truly protect their reputation and profits.
According to the United Nations, 70% of fisheries are overfished, with over 90% of cod and tuna already ending up on our plates, leaving consumers with a gill-ty conscience.
The Times has proved there are few big fish in the small pond of seafood production; as large fishing companies currently dominate the UK’s fishing market with five families controlling nearly a third of British quotas, leading to widespread unsustainable practices.
These large vessels employ fewer people, while their use of seabed disturbing fishing methods and unsustainable sourcing results in the damage of sea life and the economy.
According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, prawn trawlers have been responsible for the devastation of 30% of the Mangrove forest, in addition to being the cause of 30% of global by-catch. Tropics are the natural habitat of the majority of warm water prawns, yet trawlers used to harvest this popular commodity often accidentally capture of up to 20kg of other seafood for every one kilogram of prawns.
Trawlers are also the reason behind 150 thousand marine turtles being drowned each year, showing companies can easily sink in an era of environmentally conscious consumers. While these figures are shocking, it is only by proving suppliers have taken sustainability into account and used environmentally friendly catching methods that companies will be able to batter their competition.
Some species of fish are more sustainable than others; for example, farmed mussels are under no threat of extinction, use no chemicals and require nothing more than seawater to live, yet salmon’s production can easily be criticised for its unsustainable feeding habits and overfarmed environment.
Wild salmon has created an industry worth over £12 million, yet has encountered controversy due to the fact 1.3 kilograms of wild feed is used in the production of 1 kilogram of farmed salmon. On average, more than half of every fish becomes a by-product of which the majority is wasted; leading to environmental campaigners accusing the salmon industry of contributing to sea life’s depleting numbers due to the ‘marine ingredients’ the salmon are fed. Maria Lettini, director of the FAIRR Initiative, argues ‘we thought that farmed fish would save our wild stocks in the oceans, but now it’s coming to the fore that we are using wild-caught fish to feed our farmed fish – and that is causing real problems’.
Nearly one-fifth of global fisheries production is used for fishmeal and fish oil production, which in turn is used to feed farmed fish such as salmon.
This proves it is essential to examine the source of the seafood you are eating to ensure you do not contribute to unsustainable fishing practices. With the global seafood industry’s increasing dependence on wild fish, it is more vital than ever before to protect depleting numbers.
Social media enables media frenzies to be sparked in seconds, demonstrating the fact it is more important than ever for companies to closely monitor their supply chain to ensure unsustainable products do not sink their brand and reputation.
Trade Interchange’s ARCUS® module, Supplier Information Management, is able to collect all supplier information directly from the supplier, such as contact details, sustainability information and industry-specific accreditations.
Key documents such as modern slavery statements and insurance documents can be verified by artificial intelligence at the point of upload, ensuring their accuracy and validity and alerting supplier and company to incorrect information. This allows professionals to prioritise documents for review, while increasing confidence in the supply chain.
By centrally storing all supplier information, which can be remotely accessed by all key stakeholders, companies protect themselves from allegations of unsustainability and prove due diligence has been executed throughout the supply chain.
Automatic alerts are sent to supplier and company when documents are due to expire, ensuring compliance with company and government legislation.