Half the Fish in Europe are Illegally Caught


Jonathan Player for the International Herald Tribune

We tend to think that citizens of the UK are far more into ethical living, as Leo Hickman calls it, than North American citizens, but when it comes to fish, we are all in the same boat. According to Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times,

Some 50 percent of the fish sold in the European Union originates in developing nations, and much of it is laundered like contraband, caught and shipped illegally beyond the limits of government quotas or treaties. The smuggling operation is well financed and sophisticated, carried out by large-scale mechanized fishing fleets able to sweep up more fish than ever, chasing threatened stocks from ocean to ocean.


Julia Lohmann "the Catch"

Rosenthal continues, describing the difficulties of tracing where fish comes from.

Tracing where the fish come from is nearly impossible, many experts say. Groups like Greenpeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation have documented a range of egregious and illegal fishing practices off West Africa.

Huge boats, owned by companies in China, South Korea and Europe, fly flags of convenience from other nations. They stay at sea for years at a time, fishing, fueling, changing crews and unloading their catches to refrigerated boats at sea, making international monitoring extremely difficult.

Even when permits and treaties make the fishing legal, it is not always sustainable. Many fleets go well beyond the bounds of their agreements in any case, generally with total impunity, studies, including some by Greenpeace and Environmental Justice, show. ::New York Times