The WWF Sustainable Fisheries Programme has the unique ability to work across the seafood supply chain to address the problems our oceans face.
Our oceans are amazing and awe-inspiring; they are a source of great joy and benefit. The oceans provide us with tremendous and often unseen economic, social and cultural benefits; they act as a vast highway for commerce, provide a place for recreation and, importantly, they supply food or income for 2.6 billion people worldwide.
The Harsh Reality; our oceans, which have always been considered an inexhaustible resource, are in fact very limited in their supply.
o 80% of the world's fish stocks are either overexploited or exploited to their maximum (FAO 2008).
o No fishing gear is completely selective. As a result, many non-target fish or endangered species of albatrosses, sharks and turtles are accidentally caught as bycatch. Globally, it is estimated that approximately a 25% of what is caught is thrown back, often dead, and wasted (FAO 2008).
o 90% of our top predators, such as sharks, tuna and swordfish, have already been fished out (Heithaus et al. 2008).
o Certain fishing techniques pose a threat to marine habitats, which are the life support system for marine life.
o Marine ecosystems exist in a delicate balance – therefore harvesting a species can have implications for the functioning of the entire system.
The Good News; though our oceans have never been as degraded, we have never before been in a better position to change things. Our choices CAN make a difference, and have already driven positive change; examples of this positive change include:
o Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which have made a marked positive difference to the breeding populations of Red Roman, a very important linefish species. This has positive potential repercussions for the livelihoods of linefishermen.
o Management measures have been put in place in the demersal Hake trawl fishery which has had positive implications for kingklip, a very important bycatch species in this fishery (time area closure was implemented to protect the spawning of kingklip in 2007 as well as a precautionary catch limit).
o Substantial progress has been made to address seabird bycatch, particularly in the trawl fishery; in 2006, it was estimated that approximately 18 000 seabirds were killed in this fishery each year and this has since been reduced to approximately 8 000 seabirds per year through the introduction of tori lines and offal management.
But now, more than ever before, is the time to make the choices that drive the change.
MAKE AN INFORMED SASSI CHOICE
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Produced by Green Renaissance a division of African Renaissance Productions for WWF - Stock footage courtesy of Charles Maxwell