Pirate Fishing

From what you’ve discovered in our latest post, 75% of seafood in Australia is imported. This raises questions of traceability and sustainability that is coupled with Australia’s weak labelling laws meaning we’re eating in the dark.

Right now,  we simply cannot tell if the fish we eat was legally caught because our current laws are not strong enough to trace from bait to plate.

Pirate fishing = illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

It is currently one of the main contributors to overfishing, unfair competition and impedes sustainable fisheries. In addition, it threatens the sustainability of our ecosystems and puts food security at risk. Although difficult to detect, current estimates suggest the losses of resources cost up to US$11-30 billion every year.

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Marine species most at risk of illegal and IUU fishing as identifying by a WWF,2005 report:

  1. Tuna 
  2. Sharks 
  3. Sea cucumber

Our oceans support the livelihoods of approximately 520 million people who rely on fishing and fishing related activities, and 2.6 billion people who depend on fish as an essential part of their diet. There is a need to move towards transparent and traceable fishing practices in order to  overcoming illegal fishing as it will positively contribute to the equitable growth and empowerment of the people who rely on fish.

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What can we do to stop pirate fishing? 

Regular surveillance, monitoring and patrols of our Australia’s maritime borders are a strong deterrent to illegal foreign fishers however,

  1. Encouraging Governments and regulators to adopt technology like AIS (Automatic Identification System) to track illegal fishing
  2. Installing on-board electronic monitoring systems in vessels which collects and shares information in real-time to provide better estimates of the catch.
  3. Encouraging consumer action to promote traceability and sustainability of the seafood supply chain. This means spreading the awareness and staying engaged: Australia Fisheries website for news of IUU 
  4. Sign our petition to help ban the super trawler which contributes to overfishing.

– A.K #error404fish

Destructive Fishing Methods

Sustainable fishing has a lot to do with the way fish are caught and handled.

Feature image credit: NOAA 

Ways to ensure sustainable fishing:

  1. Reducing the number of fish caught at once especially using destructive fishing techniques

    • Trawling:

    This fishing method involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats. This method is most common for commercial fishing and can be executed close to the sea floor or as mid-water trawling. Although regulated in some nations,  the practice can be really harmful due to its non-selective nature, sweeping undesirable fish both illegal and legal in size known by by-catch. By-catch commonly includes immature species of turtles, dolphins or sharks that are accidentally killed during the trawling process.

    The biological characteristics of marine species and ecosystems makes them particularly sensitive to human activity. Trawling stirs up soil that is suspended solids polluting  In the case of deep-sea species, they grow slowly and only reach sexual maturity when several decades old in cold and dark environments. Deep sea shock and depleting stocks due to fishing need to be further recognised.

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    Source

    • Trolling:

Baited fishing lines are drawn through the water.  This is a common method for both recreational and commercial fishingMany fishing vessels stay in deep waters far away in the sea for a longer duration and over time, they lose their nets. These nets remain in the water and continue to trap and kill millions of fish and other marine creatures. Pollution is also caused by this method of overfishing. The fishing vessels that spills or discards chemicals/oils into the ocean also severely affect the marine life.

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2. Using ethical killing techniques as soon as possible after landing fish

Studies have shown that fish are sentient and can experience pain, therefore we have to acknowledge that we have an ethical obligation to treat fish humanely and avoid destructive practices. All fish caught for consumption should be killed as humanely as possible and handled with care. This requires the fish to be stunned (rendered instantaneously insensible) before being bled out.  This improves flesh quality and storage life, particularly if the fish is bled then immediately placed in an ice slurry.

3. Banning the use of live bait.

Often in recreational fishing, live bait are used to lure fish onto the hook. The bait are usually small fish who have a hook shoved into their bodies while still alive. The hook is cast into the water on the end of the fishing line, and the bait’s struggling is what attracts the larger free-swimming fish.

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How can you help? 

  1. Asking restaurants, retailers and communities about how they handled, kill and capture their seafood and urging them to ethically source them.
  2. Actively choosing sustainable seafood and educating friends/family about issues to do with overfishing.
  3. It is important to urge governments to impose stricter regulations on fishing methods such as trawling and ensuring that by-catch reduction grids are fitting into trawls to allow certain species to escape.

– A.K #error404fish

Your Oppor-Tuna-ty to Save

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Although Overfishing disrupts a vast number of different species and marine habitats, in particular tuna populations have severely declined due to overfishing and illegal overfishing. Although tuna does provide food and livelihoods for many people, they are more than just seafood. Tuna are a top predator in the marine food chain, maintaining a balance in the ocean environment.

Here’s why Tuna populations are most endangered due to overfishing:

Tuna are among the most commercially valuable fish on the planet. The Atlantic bluefin is a highly sought-after delicacy for sushi and sashimi in Asia—a single fish has sold for over $700,000! Driven by such high prices, fishermen use even more refined techniques to catch tuna. And the fish are disappearing as a result.

  1. Southern BlueFish TunaBeing one of Sydney’s most popular fish to eat, the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry is worth over $122 million annually. (2014 figure) Classified as ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species means that population levels are down to around 5% of original levels, yet overfishing continues.
  2. Bigeye TunaBigeye tuna are an important commercial fish, especially prized in Asia, they are usually marketed as fresh or frozen.As bluefin tuna populations shrink around the world, pressure on bigeye fisheries is increasing.  They are also classified as ‘vulnerable’ and overfishing continues in the Eastern and Western Pacific Oceans.
  3. Yellowfin TunaAccording to the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee, Yellowfin are overfishing and are classified as ‘nearly threatened.’ They are also increasingly susceptible to by-catch as juvenile yellowfin school with adult skipjack. They are an important commercial tuna species, particularly for the raw sashimi market.
  4. Albacore Tuna
    This species are smaller and extremely commercially important, as they are one of the two main canned tuna species (along with skipjack), and labeled as ‘solid white’ tuna. They are mainly overfished in the Northern and Southern Atlantic Oceans.

Greenpeace have a canned tuna guide that you can refer to when purchasing Tuna.

Want to help out? Sign our petition, you can also find out more about the effects of overfishing here and about sustainable seafood here.

– A.K #error404fish

Is there really ‘plenty of fish in the sea?’

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There’s a popular saying that there are ‘plenty of fish in the sea’. Metaphorically speaking, this idea is comforting when getting over a break-up or a rejection. However realistically,  actual fish stock worldwide is rapidly DECLINING and overfishing is a serious problem that directly affects Sydney-siders like you.

 So much so, that around 85% of global fish stocks are currently over-exploited and at home in Australia,  42% of fish are either over-fished or have an unknown status.

Additionally, scientists have forecasted a 37% rise in sea-food consumption by 2050 that will result in the disappearance of most wild fish. We are unable to sustain our growing appetites with local fishing methods, meaning that over 70% of Australian seafood is imported along with any environmental and social problems from the country of origin.

So you might be pondering, so what if the world is running out of fish?  How does this affect me? Or (hopefully) What can I do to help?

#Error404fish is a social innovation campaign that aims to raise awareness about overfishing and provide you with a solution to help the cause. Throughout the next few weeks,  these questions will be answered and you can find out more about ways to save Australia’s biodiversity, coral reefs and marine species. For more information, visit our solution page and connect with the community through Facebook and Twitter.

– A.K #error404fish