Seafish - set to boycott bluefin tuna?

As per the great British tradition, there was something fishy in yesterday’s news: an interesting little snippet in PR Weekly, announcing that a new PR firm has been hired to work for Seafish.

Whitby seafront: Up until the 1950s bluefin tuna was caught off the East coast of the British Isles

Whitby seafront: Up until the 1950s bluefin tuna was caught off the East coast of the British Isles

Seafish, in case you didn’t know, are the industry body responsible for promoting (and, in many cases, defending) the fishing industry in the UK. They are paid for by us, both as a levy on the fish we buy, and in government funding.

The news here is that they are looking to communicate how the UK fishing industry is 100 per cent behind ’sustainability’, which is of course fantastic.

Not least because UK seas, like many others in Europe, have seen the most rapacious excesses of overfishing in decades and centuries gone by.

They also say that one of the issues they want to communicate is “the sale of bluefin tuna”.

Now, Seafish are rather late to that particular party for a number of reasons. Our own fisheries minister has already announced that the UK will back a ban on the trading of bluefin (as have Monaco, France and the Netherlands).

And of course Greenpeace, The End of The Line, WWF, Oceana, and many other organisations have been campaigning to change the perilous situation of bluefin for years.

But, of course, we welcome Seafish, belatedly, to the bandwagon. So what does this mean?

Will Seafish be supporting the ban on the trade of bluefin?

Will they be calling for a ban on the sale of endangered species like bluefin by restaurants like Nobu, as our fisheries minister has now done?

Just what will Seafish be doing to make sure bluefin tuna is rescued from the brink of extinction?

I’m certainly keen to find out.

Of course, some in the fishing industry have criticised The End Of The Line for focusing on bluefin, saying it’s not relevant to the UK. But that is where they are very, very wrong.

Not only is bluefin a species on the brink of extinction, something that should concern us all, but it is found in UK waters. That’s why the UK government’s announcement is meaningful.

Not only is the UK a ‘range state‘ for bluefin tuna, but we used to have our own bluefin tuna fishery in the North Sea. Up until the middle of last century, sports fishermen were catching bluefin off resorts like Scarborough and Whitby.

So if Seafish and the UK government are serious about the sustainability of our seas and our fish stocks, presumably they want to manage our seas for recovery, so that species that are no longer common can recover and thrive again in places like the North Sea.

That means designating large areas off-limits to fishing as marine reserves, both for the overall resilience of the seas, and for protecting specific areas of importance (such as the area around the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, which is a breeding ground for bluefin tuna).

Rather than see bluefin tuna as an irrelevance or a convenient media hook, I’m looking forward to seeing Seafish do something meaningful to ensure their continued existence.

  • Willie MacKenzie is part of Greenpeace’s Ocean Campaign. This blog post originally appeared on the Greenpeace UK website.


0 Responses to “Seafish - set to boycott bluefin tuna?”

  1. No Comments

Leave a Reply