Fishing further for your supper; July 16th marks UK dependence on fish from abroad as local stocks fail to meet our growing demand

Are there really plenty more fish in the sea? What were once rich and fertile European waters are now over-fished and over-exploited seas. The UK is no exception to this trend: our nation’s insatiable fish consumption, along with poor fisheries management, have led to dwindling fisheries no longer capable of meeting domestic consumer demands and this pressure is now placing unprecedented demands on foreign fishery resources. A recent report by The New Economics Foundation (NEF) highlights startling predictions of how the UK’s waters are no longer able to meet our demand for fish.  To be precise, annual UK consumption outweighs total annual domestic supply by 16 July each year; a date dubbed the UK’s Fish Dependence Day. Last year’s NEF report predicted our 2010 Dependence Day to fall on 4 August, indicating further growth of UK fish consumption relative to domestic catch in 2011 compared to 2010.

Fish Dependence Day’s calendar representation clearly demonstrates the growing extent to which our nation relies on foreign fish stocks, illustrating the very real impact that our consumption patterns are having on other nations’ seas. Numerous reports comment on EU fleets being responsible for the devastation of West African fisheries  as Europe are reported to import  over 3 billion fish annually and therefore drastically threaten the food security of developing coastal populations.

The current situation is clearly unsustainable, yet this dire state of affairs can be reversed: NEF concludes that by reducing fishing capacity and providing an appropriate policy framework to base fisheries management on scientific recommendations, fish stocks can be exploited at sustainable levels. Blue Ventures is a member of the Ocean 2012 coalition, a network of conservation organisations urging fisheries ministers throughout Europe to reform Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy in 2012 by ending overfishing and destructive fishing practices, delivering fair and equitable use of resources for future generations.

Legislation and policy change are not the only means by which we can fight for more sustainable seas: as consumers, we can play an important role in putting an end to the UK’s unsustainable seafood appetite. By reducing the amount of fish we eat, and ensuring what we purchase comes from certified sustainable sources, we can send a powerful signal to the market to ensure Fish Dependence Day gets later – not earlier – every year.

Find out more about the Ocean 2012 coalition at

Posted by Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is an award winning marine conservation charity. We rebuild tropical fisheries with coastal communities. On our Beyond Conservation blog you can hear voices from the front line of marine conservation written by our staff and volunteers.

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