photo: Krista/Creative Commons
New analysis from the New Economics Foundation shows just how far the growing British taste for fish is depleting local waters. NEF's Fish Dependence report says that local fisheries can supply just 196 days worth of fish eating in the UK, meaning that July 16 marks the day when the nation statistically starts relying on fish from abroad. If aquaculture is excluded, Britain over eats its fish resources on June 22. That taste for fish is growing: The report notes that this year's date is three weeks earlier than last year's (August 4) and a full six weeks earlier than in 1995.
All told, the statistically average UK citizen eats 20.3 kg of fish each year, slightly below average EU consumption (22.1 kg), though 3.2 kg higher than the global average. That difference between UK fish eating and the EU as a whole means that for the EU, the date when local fish stocks fail to meet demand is July 2.
Obviously this is all statistically based, in that in practice it's not like only locally-sourced fish are eaten in the first six and a half months of the year, but it is a very useful reference point for that state of overfishing and on how our dietary choices affect the world, the species, and the life around us.
NEF's Ian Campbell sums it up:
It turns out that there aren't plenty more fish in the sea after all. Unless we radically change course, we're facing a future of abandoned fishing communities, huge job losses, depleted oceans and a sad end to a Great British meal.
Read the report: Fish Dependence - 2011 Update
What can be done? NEF recommends, among other things: 1) reducing fishing capacity so that it is in line with available resources, prioritizing scientific advice on quota levels to do so, 2) promoting responsible consumption among all EU fish eaters and promoting responsible fishing practices outside EU waters.