Fish Fight shows an industry moving forward

January 13, 2011 15:41

The UK fishing industry has been shown to be open, transparent and future-focused - despite facing challenges such as discards, according to Seafish, the authority on seafood, reports with reference to Seafish.

The fishing industry, which has been in the spotlight this week on Channel 4, has been dealing with the issue of discarding fish for some years and Seafish has welcomed presenter Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's focus on this problem. 

Chief Executive of Seafish, Dr Paul Williams, says:  "Discarding represents a terrible waste of our precious natural resources and the public have now seen how devastated fishermen are when they have to throw dead fish back into the sea.

"While the programmes have shown the problems of discarding, they have yet to focus on solutions - we have to be mindful that there is no one solution to solve all the reasons for discarding. Seafish, the fishermen, the scientists and Government have been working on ways to mitigate these problems for many years - some of which offer real hope for the future, alongside possible changes to the Common Fisheries Policy.

"We are proud of the industry for welcoming television cameras onto vessels and showing that it's keen to get the public involved in helping shape its future."

Information about discards initiatives, such as the Fishing for the Market scheme, is available on

An important part of mitigating discards is putting more resources into measurement.

"We have to know how many fish are discarded - not knowing that undermines our best efforts at managing fish stocks sustainably," said Dr Williams.

The other key message in the Channel 4 programmes has been to encourage the public to try new species of fish.

Dr Williams continued: "We applaud this message - we have access to such a wealth of species in the UK. We would particularly encourage people to eat more oil-rich seafood, such as mackerel and herring and even some shellfish, such as crab.  Recent studies have shown we have very low Omega-3 consumption in the UK and eating oil-rich fish is the best natural source.

"However, people in the UK do not need to stop eating cod.  The programmes have not made it clear that the vast majority - at least 95% - of cod sold and eaten in the UK, including in fish and chip shops, comes from sustainable stocks in places such as the Barents Sea.   These stocks now have MSC-accreditation and are in excellent supply. The small amount sold sourced from the North Atlantic is caught under strict management criteria, so is also from well-managed stocks. So, if you really like cod, don't feel you need to stop eating it - just make sure it's responsibly sourced."

Dr Williams said:  "Seafood is a healthy, vitamin and mineral-rich protein. We want people to enjoy it and to value it, along with the hard work from those that get it to our plates. We need to maintain a responsible and vibrant fishing and fish farming industry to support our dietary needs."

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