Footprint Blog

Alaska and New Zealand lead the way to sustainable fishing. The British are sadly not quite off the starting blocks!


A study from an international team of scientists shows that a handful of major fisheries across the world have managed to reduce the rate at which fish are exploited, says David Adam, Environment Correspondent at

The analysis is a very welcome reflection of global efforts but one must remain cynical. It shows what can be achieved but the British fishing industry in particular has a long way to go. 

‘The new analysis used catch data as well as stock assessments, scientific trawl surveys, small-scale fishery data and modelling results. It highlighted catch quotas, localised fishing closures and bans on selected fishing gear to allow smaller fish to escape, as measures that help fish stocks recover. Agencies in Alaska and New Zealand have led the world in the fight against overfishing by acting before the situation became critical, says the study, which is published in the journal ‘Science’. Fish abundance is increasing in previously over-fished areas around Iceland, the North-East US shelf, the Newfoundland-Labrador shelf and California. This has benefited species such as American plaice, pollock, haddock and Atlantic Cod’, says The Guardian.

Apparently the North Sea, the Baltic and Celtic-Biscay shelf fisheries are all still declining. In these areas Atlantic cod and herring are still badly affected. Fishermen in Ireland and the North Sea are still catching too many fish. 63% of assessed fish stocks worldwide still require rebuilding, the scientists report.

The article goes on to say the isolated success stories ‘May best be interpreted as large scale restoration experiments that demonstrate opportunities for successfully rebuilding marine resources elsewhere. Many nations in Africa have sold the right to fish in their waters to wealthy developed countries that have exhausted their own stocks, the experts said.’

Dr Ana Parma, one of the Authors of the paper said ‘this is the first exhaustive attempt to assemble the best available data on the status of marine fisheries and trends in exploitation rates, a major breakthrough that has allowed scientists from different backgrounds to reach a consensus about the status of fisheries and actions needed’.

Footprints own conclusion is that this is wonderful news but a terrible shame that British fisheries do not appear to have had a positive impact. One would hope that this will only be a matter of time.

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