Ending overfishing: a welcome call from British businesses

During the much needed recent reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (reform which even Greenpeace hailed as a great success), several British businesses made the case that more sustainable fishing practices ensure the viability of their industries. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s now-famous ‘Fish Fight‘ campaign against the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea was a good example of this — bringing with it the backing of nearly a million Brits.

With reform agreed, old regulations must be brought in line with the new policy. In the coming months, a large part of this alignment will be done through what are called ‘multiannual management plans’, or MAPs. The current Baltic MAP marks the first of the new-style plans, setting important precedents for others to come (with two upcoming MAPs that will directly impact upon the UK fishing industry). Within the discussions of these MAPs, one overarching ambition of the fisheries reforms has become something of a sticking-point: the ambition to replenish stocks of fish by setting ‘maximum sustainable yield’ levels with a safety margin.

In this context, a large number of British retailers have joined forces with environmental organisations to ask the European Commission to propose fishing limits next year in line with the reformed fisheries policy’s sustainability requirements. This unprecedented large-scale move by retailers to get involved in this way highlights how ending overfishing is not only good for the environment and fish stocks — but also for the bottom line of British businesses, and by association, consumers.

Their letter can be read in full here, and has been co-signed by:

  • British Retail Consortium
  • ClientEarth
  • Direct Seafoods
  • Harbour Lights
  • Icelandic Seachill
  • M&J Seafood
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Morrisons
  • New England Seafood
  • River Cottage
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • The Co-operative Food
  • Waitrose
  • Young’s Seafood
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