Fish and chips is one of the UK’s favourite meals. Yes, it’s not very healthy, but as an occasional treat it’s great – or is it? Most of us enjoy one of two fish with our chips – either cod or haddock. But the sad news is that both of these species are in trouble.
Last week, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) removed the North Sea haddock from its list of fish which can be sustainably caught. Numbers of haddock have fallen below the recommended sustainable level and the amount of breeding fish needs to increase before they can be caught without placing them in danger.
The MCS’s action has not gone down well with fishermen – in fact, some seem to be ignoring it. Bertie Armstrong, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:
‘The fishing industry is well used to these sorts of frankly meaningless publications… you can continue to buy your fish supper without worrying about whether there will be enough fish left in the sea.’
The Atlantic cod is also in danger. Overfishing has seriously depleted its numbers. It has become extinct in Canada and could face the same fate in Europe where it is caught primarily in the North Sea. The UK is the world’s largest consumer and importer of cod, the reason: fish and chips.
It’s not just cod and haddock which are at risk from overfishing – many more species are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Here’s a list of other seafood to avoid putting on your plate:
- Conger eel
- Atlantic salmon
- Chilean seabass
- European hake
- European seabass
- North Atlantic halibut
You might be surprised to see tuna on the list but, of the eight species, all but one are on the IUCN list.
Many of us assume that our governments make sure that our food is sustainable but, with lobbying from people like Mr. Armstrong who I quoted earlier, they are under pressure to keep industries happy. I noticed with both amazement and sadness that America’s new president, Donald Trump, has decided to remove much of his country’s funding from the world’s efforts to counter climate change. When powerful people refuse to face the facts they place the fate of us all in jeopardy.
Do you agree that more should be done to protect the environment, or perhaps you believe that industry should come first and that the environment is not really in any danger at all? Share your thoughts with Education Quizzes in the comments box below – we’d love to hear from you, whatever your opinion.