Friday, May 09, 2008

Greenpeace protest at Brussels seafood show

Greenpeace protesters disrupted the Brussels Seafood Show last week, locking themselves to booths, broadcasting messages, and unfurling banners.

Why? Greenpeace said "we got our message out today directly to fish suppliers that unless fisheries go sustainable then neither those who trade in fish, nor our fish stocks, have a future."

But did they really get their message out to fish suppliers? Was anyone listening to the words they broadcast? Check out this Greenpeace video on YouTube and see what you think.

One Maltese fish supplier didn't seem to be tuned in to the details of the message, exclaiming that "Greenpeace have surpassed all limits."

The seafood world is already buzzing with talk of sustainability. It's on everyone's mind, and most seafood sellers want a piece of the sustainability action. In this context, will it advance the cause to use confrontational tactics to gain attention?

I think the seafood world is already paying attention, and what's needed now is a practical path towards sustainability.

I'm putting my effort behind the Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood instead of protests.

What do you think?


Sophie said...

"I think the seafood world is already paying attention".
I think you are living in la-la-land or on another continent.
European seafood industry doesn’t get sustainability. European fishermen are busy breaking things to try and get cheaper diesel fuel and larger cod quotas, overfishing tuna illegally, etc...
They are destroying the resource faster than you can say 'sustainable'.

Anonymous said...

I think a range of voices and approaches will likely be needed to reach true seafood sustainability...whatever that is. This need not be seen as an either/or. Confrontation and collaboration are not necessarily mutually exclusive, especially when undertaken by different groups across a political spectrum.

Anonymous said...

What I think? Hmm, mostly I think you've been taken in by nice words. Some part of the industry might be listening, but the majority surely doesn't give a damn. And why should they? It's not in the interest of a smaller player to become sustainable. In it's most simply iteration it is a classic tragedy of the commons scenario. Change can only come on a larger scale with pressure from managing bodies -be it governments or RFOs- and very big market players (maybe pushed by consumer demand or simply by actual long time planning).

The "seafood" (such a lovely word for what used to be called fish) industry might be buzzing with talk of sustainability but that talk is mostly in their marketing material and not in their actions. This goes for most European fisheries and surely for high seas ones as well. Even the so-called controlled and legal fishermen are constantly caught cheating and pushing the boundaries. All the time helped by governments eager to support "their" fishermen who are out battling for a global resource on a global market.

Regarding that article you link. The outraged Mr. Azzopardi might want to check if he is properly quoted by The Times as his statement surely does not reflect real-life. No way on Earth he can find a fisheries scientist who finds the Mediterranean tuna fisheries / fattening in any way sustainable, and legally the Maltese fishermen didn't do that well either.. The problem with companies focussing on tuna is that in order to contribute to a sustainable world they have to close shop.

As Anonymous already says: Confrontation and collaboration are both important tools to a better managed aquatic world. We need productive talks, planning & real actions. To achieve that we need constant attention with the general public as well as industry itself.

Anonymous said...

Protests for sustainability and alliances for sustainability both fall short.

I’m for flat out bans and restrictions since the industry has proven that it can’t govern its self.

If it could, we wouldn’t be here now would we?

Of course, all approaches will be needed to shift to a different understanding of our obligations to the oceans; the moderate, the aggressive moderate, and "extreme" "doom and gloom."

Mark Powell said...

I understand the desire for strong remedies imposed on the fishing industry where they've resisted conservation needs.

But it would be a mistake to use that desire as justification for punishing seafood wholesalers.

The fishing and seafood indsutry is not monolithic, and mistakes made by one sector do not create guilt for everyone everywhere who ever sold a fish.

This debate isn't about the value of confrontation and collaboration. It's about figuring out who needs to change and who are potential allies in bringing about that change.

Was the Greenpeace demonstration a powerful message that was carefully directed at people who need to change, and done it a way to promote change? Reasonable people can disagree about the answer to that question.

Most importantly, doubts about this demonstration are not doubts about all demonstrations.

Piscophile said...

I think there's a place for all sorts of conservation approaches, and sometimes demonstrations can be (quoting E.O. Wilson's The Future of Life), "therapeutic disturbances".

But I too believe that, the power of many thousands of individuals, making choices mindful of sustainability can nurture our long dormant, nascent ocean ethic and transform fisheries.

I want to call Blogfish's attention to a recent development with the second largest (by weight) fishery in the U.S. - menhaden.

Menhaden was certified yesterday by Friends of the Sea. This seemed to occur without any engagement with many stakeholders involved with this highly controversial fishery.

Apparently they use 3 criteria, relating to bycatch, bottom contacting gear, and overfishing status. The first two are easily met, the last - not so much. This certification may have been well intentioned. I am concerned that the pressure to find salmon aquaculture feed that can be called sustainable may have clouded judgment - this is my own speculation.

I am concerned about the potential for ill-advised or sham certification to jeopardize the future for "green-branding" strategies in general.

Amy Wike said...

I believe in the cause of the protestors, for the market (and other markets)to use sustainable products and processes. It will be good when all companies/markets obtain their green business certification.