The Baltic Sea ecosystem is seriously dysfunctional, and the fact that sturgeon stocks continue to shrink is not a good thing, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF. Due to continued overfishing and slow growth, sturgeon gets a red light in the latest fish guide.
Cod trawled from the Barents and Norwegian Seas also end up red after previously being yellow. The red light means that WWF is urging food chains, consumers and restaurants to choose these fish.
Flounder is exposed to overfishing and becomes smaller and more agile than before. Large-scale trawling is depleting stocks, says Inger Melander, fisheries and markets expert at WWF.
According to a proposal from the European Commission, all sturgeon fishing in the Central Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia should be halted next year. EU fisheries ministers are scheduled to meet from October 23-24 to set catch quotas for next year.
We hope they will follow the committee’s proposal, but unfortunately they are likely to choose more short-term financial solutions, says Inger Melander.
Baltic Sea herring is another fish that changes its color combination in this year’s fish guide. It turns from green to yellow due to exceeding catch quotas and inadequate management, according to the WWF.
A ray of light in this year’s report is that the bream in the Baltic Sea is switching from light yellow to light green. The stock is believed to be doing well and fishing at the current volume does not appear to be negatively impacting the ecosystem. The other good news is that whitefish and halibut roe imported from some parts of the United States and land-farmed giant shrimp are getting the green light.
These are giant prawns that are grown in closed, on-ground recycling systems in places like Germany, Austria and Switzerland with a low environmental impact, says Inger Melander.
One fish that you should continue to avoid is the Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna, regardless of the method used when catching it. The stock has been overfished and only 31 percent of the original stock remains. In addition, fisheries have a high proportion of bycatch of other marine species when they are caught.
Fish are not just food or a source of livelihood for professional fishermen. They play a very important role in the marine ecosystem. Healthy, biodiverse marine ecosystems are essential for viable fish stocks to thrive and grow, and are more resilient to climate change, says Inger Melander.
The guide uses traffic lights: green (good choice), yellow (be careful), and red (don’t).
When classifying, the following should be taken into account:
1) Fish stocks
2) Control and management
3) Impact of fishing on the ecosystem (habitats, marine species, discards, bycatch, etc.)
4) Violation of human rights
5) Greenhouse gas emissions associated with fishing
6) Loss of fishing equipment left in seas and lakes
For cultivated species, they look at the origin of the feed, how farming is done and what its environmental impact is, as well as management efficiency. Environmental toxins are not covered.
Certifications like MSC, ASC and KRAV do not automatically get the green light and are outside the traffic lights. WWF recommends primarily choosing green light species and secondarily certified fish products.
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