The Greener Choice: Unsustainable fishing is threatening wild fish populations.

I’m a little late on this one!  Despite finishing college (finally!), these last few weeks have still been pretty full on and, when I’ve not been working, I’ve been taking full advantage of our new home in stunning sunny Cornwall.

But here it is…the first of my ‘Greener Choices’. 

I’ve already mentioned my decision to boycott beef, single-use plastic bags, bottles, and straws, and take-away food/drinks packaging, all of which are not proving to be difficult BY THE WAY ;).  But here is another change I have decided to make.

The Tuna ‘Catch’

Vegetarianism and veganism is becoming a bit of a trend; many people have realised that animal farming is not only cruel (in most cases), but, on the whole, unsustainable.  However, while many of us commit to shunning meat, we forget about the creatures of the ocean.  Seafood is in enormous demand across the world and is the principal livelihood for millions of people.  Yet, therein lies the issue; our demand for fish and, for many, the income that is derived from fishing, has led us to consider the ocean a ‘limitless bounty of food’ (WWF, 2017) – be it due to blissful ignorance, or simply a conscious decision to remain in denial, who knows! (For most, I think it’s the latter!).

Unfortunately, enhanced technology and increased fishing efforts over the last 50 odd years have been driving fish stocks closer to the point of collapse.  What’s more, fishing practices are often destructive to entire ecosystems.  For example, bottom trawling, which has increased in use since the 19th century, destroys almost everything in its path.  Designed to capture as many fish as possible with one ‘drag’, trawlers devastate coral, sponge, and benthic fish communities as they ‘plow’ up the sea floor.  As a result, trawling homogenises habitats, reduces biodiversity, and negatively impacts non-target species who are captured as by-catch.

A diagram illustrating the effects of bottom trawling

The trouble today is that bottom trawlers have evolved into large industrial, high-tech machines/ships; in order to keep pace with the growing demand, fishermen are resorting to these highly destructive methods, despite the knowledge that they are tremendously taxing on marine ecosystems.  This is particularly the case for Atlantic Bluefin tuna – a highly sought-after delicacy.  In fact, most tuna species face significant threats to their continued existence which is further exacerbated by illegal and unregulated fishing practices, poor international conservation management (WWF, 2017), and a lack of regulations, despite pressure from conservationists.  For example, in the 1990s a coalition of fisherman, conservationists, tourism experts, and scientists failed to secure the implementation of a network of 127 marine conservation zones in the waters around England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – the government dismissed the proposal on the basis that scientific evidence was lacking!

What can we do?

Whilst some companies, such as John West, have promised to work towards increased sustainable practices, tuna species are mostly fully, or over-exploited.  Therefore, this may be too little too late.  For this and the reasons above I have decided to start weaning myself off fish, starting with tuna (which, by the way, is a huge wrench – Daniel and I would eat tuna by the bucket load as a primary source of protein after a crossfit session!).

You can also start making your weekly food shop more sustainable.  If you are unwilling or unable to eliminate fish from your diet, then consider eliminating one type e.g. tuna.  Alternatively, you can simply purchase Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish; in short, the MSC promote sustainable standards and provide certification for fisheries and brands that satisfy those standards.  To make things easier for you, I have made a list of brands who offer MSC certified fish – below 🙂

Just look for the blue stamp!

MSC Certification logo



Birds Eye

Charles Basset


Jamie Oliver

John West


Marks and Spencer






The Co-operative

The Fishmonger


Greener Choice #2

I will post my second greener choice soon.  Stay tooned.

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