Europe, U.S. team up to fight overfishing

In a move to protect the planet’s remaining stocks of fish and move toward sustainable fisheries, the U.S. and the European Union have responded to rising concerns by calling for the maximum amount of days …

In a move to protect the planet’s remaining stocks of fish and move toward sustainable fisheries, the U.S. and the European Union have responded to rising concerns by calling for the maximum amount of days for individual catches to be tracked.

Last month, the International Seafood Alliance signed a protocol to follow up on agreements aimed at improving transparency. This would, they argue, help transparency and accountability, by monitoring the catches of individual fish and fish processors and banning the sale of fish captured prior to its maximum potential catch.

According to a paper released Thursday, published in Nature by the Harvard Kennedy School’s fisheries program, this breakthrough is welcome, especially considering the changing global context.

In Europe, industries for farmed fish have expanded rapidly in recent years, and as a result, some of the stocks of wild fish have declined. The recent biological opinions from the International Scientific Committee on Aquaculture (Ica) drew increased interest from fishermen concerned about the future sustainability of their business. “Worries about global food and resource security will increase, with increasing protection against overexploitation (overfishing) of vital ecosystem services,” the paper reads.

But the European Union didn’t want to stop there. According to the paper, countries around the world have continued to seek to take action, as populations for species like mackerel have dwindled.

In March, the EU government of Norway supported adoption of two EU initiatives aimed at reducing a number of threats to the fishing industry, including removing a fleet of Canadian boats from a fishing zone off the Norwegian coast and increasing the costs for non-compliant operations.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that all fish catch must be reported to traceable databases. In 2017, the FDA considered applying this measure to fish processed in the United States, with the goal of increasing transparency in the overall system.

The Ica recommendations explicitly supported the use of technology and metrics to help tailor management activities to monitor the extent of sustainable fishing. The paper details measures that these recommendations seek to measure and the “parameters” of meaningful data that will be reported.

The effort “will allow the data tracking movement between monitoring and monitoring of fishermen at sea, at port and in the fishery,” the paper reads. “The United States and Norway now realize that significant improvements will likely require national or regional multi-stakeholder initiatives, requiring the coordinating of global and regional systems,” the paper reads.

The United States and the EU have urged their partners in the Pacific and Caribbean regions to use the collective approach to achieve these goals.

For now, it seems that the world is taking a firm lead in fighting overfishing — here’s hoping that the same resolve will extend to other types of unsustainable practices.

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