Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Enviros & seafood businesses make unlikely allies

Anyone who's worked on fish conservation can tell you that some seafood businesses can be the most anti-conservation voices in the management arena. In that context, it's welcome news to read about conservation gains achieved through successful partnerships between conservation groups and seafood businesses.

This successful effort includes some large corporations, such as Wal-mart and McDonald's, and some smaller but influential business leaders like Plitt Seafood Company.

It's a good thing that some courageous and visionary individuals reached out across cultural divides and sought some common ground in sustainable seafood. Now, instead of suspicion and knee-jerk opposition, enviros and seafood businesses can talk about shared goals openly. Not everything is shared, but enough to make it very valuable to work together on some very important issues.

The work is not done, but things are certainly going better today than 10 years ago. It might make an interesting story.


Kevin Zelnio said...

Good to hear some positive news from the industry! Hopefully the result is as positive if not more. Its funny that conservationists and seafood industry doesn't work together, they both have the same goal right? More fish or other seafood. The problem is that most businesses are not forward thinking enough, too focused on the here and now.

Unknown said...

The article in the Pittsburg Tribune-Reviw is very good. It emphazises that consumers can cooperate with conservation allies in many countries producing fish which is available fresh in stores and in restaurants of the various countries. It states among other things: - "Three major factors affecting sustainability are biology (short-lived, quick-maturing fish with vigorous reproductive cycles are highly sustainable), catch methods (hook-and-line and traps are often favored because they have low environmental impact and don't snag many unwanted species), and fishery management (whether good policies are in place for preserving the habitat and the species)." - I agree with most of what is said in this paragraph. But the notion "short-lived, quick-maturing fish with vigorous reproductive cycles are highly sustainable" - needs some clarification. What it should mean is "pelagic short lived fish," i.e. herring, anchovy, and capelin. The chore of the reasoning is that these fish are caught mainly on their spawning migrations and then the fish are all mature and usually of similar size. This causes that the fishing techniques, seining, does not size select the fish and so cause no genetic changes even after many decades of fishing. The seines take whole schools or part of chools, entirely and more or less biologically homogenous. And the pelagic seining does not touch the bottom, like bottom trawling, and disturb the ecological systems there. - This must be emphazied because most of the demersal fish like cod, haddock and hakes are caught by trawlers which are continously size selecting their harvest. It is very serious but most people in the branches don´t recognize this or admit as they have vested intersts. Even many fishery biologists don´t accept this. There is now enough research material present to maintain this, and almost proven, and justify the recommendation to conservation parties to demand labels indicating fishing methods applied on the goods in question, in retailer shops and restaurants. The collapse of cod in Canada brought scientists on the trail of this problem. The North Sea is also containing more or less collapsed subunits of the cod. Then the growth parameters of the fish have changed dramatically. Many other fish are in real danger like the hoki of New Zealand and the cod of Iceland. The cod in the Barent Sea is also showing dangerous signs even though TAC´s are still maintained daringly high. - It is quite realistic and just to demand information about fishing methods. In most cases then the concerning fishing parties have to change fishing gear or fishing practices if they want to maintain business. In most cases that will also increase fishing stocks and fish catches in the near future and so be beneficial to most parties even though some short term painful distractions will be necessary.