The MSC and BCs sockeye salmon

2010-01-21

in Canada, Economics, Politics, Rants, Science, The environment

I have written before about how the certification of a fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council is not sufficient cause to think it is genuinely sustainable (even before factors other than fish numbers, such as fossil fuel use by ships, are taken into account). More evidence for this has been forthcoming recently. Now, they have decided to certify the British Columbia sockeye salmon fishery, despite how the fish numbers are dwindling and subject to an ongoing inquiry. Last year’s run on the Fraser river was less than 10% of what had been expected. The recent history of salmon in BC is a catalog of failure. The decision to certify regardless certainly doesn’t leave the MSC looking very credible. Their decision doesn’t become official until a 15-day complaint period has concluded, and people will hopefully be able to persuade them to think differently during that span.

For those who really care about environmental issues and are willing to make personal choices to reflect that, I recommend avoiding fish (and other sorts of meat) entirely. Keeping fishing activity at a sustainable level just seems to require more political integrity and long-term thinking than any of the world’s governments can muster. It’s so much easier to grab a haul now, earn a bundle, and leave the mess for those who will come later.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel January 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I would argue that if you simply avoid seafood altogether (while continuing to eat other forms of meat), you are not supporting the fishing industries that HAVE made an effort to the change their ways. I know that the Vancouver Aquarium’s program is not particularly strong in Ottawa (they only have one Ottawa restaurant listed on their website) but it is quite widespread throughout the Lower Mainland. They follow similar programs out of the States such as SeaChoice, rather than the MSC. From everything that I have read, certain industries such as the Alaskan cod and BC spot prawn industries are sustainable fisheries (as far as taking a boat out in the ocean and catching fish can be sustainable). By supporting these industries, I a) refuse to support less sustainable fisheries and b) encourage more fisheries to become more sustainable. If you avoid seafood altogether you are not encouraging sustainable fisheries.

Mica January 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

handsome photo of papa.

He is such a young man at heart. Love it.

. January 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Is There Really a Debate over Seafood?

Category: Food Systems • Guilt
Posted on: June 11, 2009 1:07 PM, by Jennifer L. Jacquet

Whether we should continue eating seafood is a hot topic this week. While I was arguing (again) that we should give up eating seafood, Mark Bittman at the New York Times had a nice piece on how seafood has changed through his lifetime and how the days of “see it/eat it” are over. However, he stops short of a strong stance and tries to justify his continued seafood consumption:

“One could argue, as I sometimes do (mostly to myself), that one shouldn’t eat fish at all, fearing that if fish lovers begin consuming those few remaining species that are not in trouble — sardines, mackerel, squid — we might just make quick work of them, too. But though that may be the easiest argument to phrase, it isn’t likely to be popular, nor will it help the cods and flounders.”

Similarly, the debate (which is not particularly compelling since no one argued we should stop eating seafood altogether–again, fish need a wide spectrum of voices) rages on at the NYTimes blog. I prefer the one Randy Olson and I had on the Shifting Baselines blog back in 2007 since it presents a dichotomy (as one might expect in a debate).

We need stronger positions. And we need them soon. I believe people are realizing that the “choose this but not that” approach to seafood is a paltry one coming from the old guard. There is a new guard who has grown tired of this moderate (and therefore unexciting, however realistic it might be) stance.

. January 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Need a Resolution? Boycott Seafood

Posted on: January 4, 2010 1:19 AM, by Jennifer L. Jacquet

If you do not know why you would ever want to give up seafood, you can read this
or this or this. To summarize, the main reasons anyone should consider giving up seafood are:

EATING SEAFOOD IS NOT THAT HEALTHY.

EATING SEAFOOD HAS NEGATIVE ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES.

TO EAT SEAFOOD IS TO EAT SOME OF THE PLANET’S LAST REMAINING WILDLIFE.

(Yet, despite this third fact, I was just reading this eye-opening article in Conservation Biology, which discusses the very few CITES listing of marine taxa– in part because fisheries are not considered part of the wildlife trade).

Tristan January 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

What do you make of past successes in international fisheries policy? I.e. the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission, which built the fish ladders at Hells gate and are oft credited with restoring the fraser salmon run?

As for personal politics. It’s easy to boycott seafood. What’s hard is chastising your friends for continuing to eat it. While I don’t think it’s time to start moralizing outright (i.e. it’s wrong to eat animals) – it is time to start telling the facts outright (i.e. the current fish industry will deprive our children from their inherent right to use natural beings as their foodstuffs), even when it might be considered a bit rude.

Mica January 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Uggh…people stop responding :)

I keep getting email notifications for each response.

And ALL I WANTED to say was my dad looked handsome!

And this is what I get!

Humbug!

Milan January 21, 2010 at 11:50 pm

1) Surely you expected comments on this thread to mostly be about fish?

2) The emails all include unsubscribe information.

Milan January 22, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I would argue that if you simply avoid seafood altogether (while continuing to eat other forms of meat), you are not supporting the fishing industries that HAVE made an effort to the change their ways.

I am unconvinced that such fisheries really exist, or that consumers would be able to pick them out if they did. The state of global fisheries is such an utter mess right now that the most appropriate thing to do seems to be to reduce consumer demand as much as possible.

Incidentally, I do not eat other forms of meat.

What do you make of past successes in international fisheries policy?

It is encouraging that there have been some, but there have been far more failures.

One new thing to worry about is Iceland maybe joining the EU. They have some of the world’s best fishery policies now, while the EU has some of the worst in the world.

While I don’t think it’s time to start moralizing outright (i.e. it’s wrong to eat animals) – it is time to start telling the facts outright (i.e. the current fish industry will deprive our children from their inherent right to use natural beings as their foodstuffs), even when it might be considered a bit rude.

I agree. I think it is entirely appropriate to make friends and family members aware of the state of global fisheries, and the impact our current consumption will have on people in the future, around the world. It is also worth pointing out how some of the areas where there are still productive fisheries are the waters off poor countries. The increasing encroachment of industrial fishing fleets into those areas is having adverse consequences on the health and welfare of people in those countries, as well as the health of those ecosystems.

. August 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm

With biggest salmon run in nearly a century, hope returns to the Fraser

Justine Hunter

Victoria — Globe and Mail Update Published on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 6:03PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 8:35AM EDT

Fishermen are scrambling to their boats to cash in on what is pegged as the strongest sockeye run on the Fraser in almost a century – just as an inquiry into last year’s collapse of that run gets under way.

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has been in B.C. this week and said the excitement she’s seen in fishing communities is palpable. “Everybody is abuzz about the great return of the Fraser sockeye,” she said in an interview on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the Pacific Salmon Commission revised its estimates, predicting 25 million sockeye are bound for the Fraser River this summer. That is more than double the early summer forecast, making it the best run since 1913.

Ms. Shea stressed, however, that it doesn’t mean the salmon crisis is over.

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