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How much do you love fish and chips? We absolutely love them, especially the fish, with a squeeze of lemon and maybe a dip in the tartare sauce. By the way, what is actually in tartare sauce? What are those chunks we avoid?

Fish and chips are a great treat. But they should just be a treat, not something you have all the time.

This is not just because fish and chips are ordinary for your waistline, but also because our oceans are running out of fish. It’s hard to believe, but the old proverb “there’s plenty more fish in the sea” is sadly no longer true.

What’s happened?

Well, in many parts of the world we have been over-fishing. Over-fishing happens when fish are caught faster than they can breed. Today’s modern fleet is more like the military than fishing fleets past with factory boats, radar, sonar, satellite navigation, long-lines, massive drift nets and bottom drag trawling. What chance has a fish got? These modern seafaring armies are successfully capturing the world’s fisheries. More boats are travelling further to catch less and smaller fish.

Quite a few species of fish are in trouble. According to the scientific journal Nature only 10% of all large fish are left in our oceans. This includes open ocean fish like sharks, tuna, mackerel, marlin and swordfish and bottom dwellers such as flounder, cod and halibut.


Dr. Daniel Pauly on Overfishing


A global crisis

Almost eight out of ten known fish stocks are either fully or over exploited, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

In 2006, a team of Canadian researchers found that on current trends, all fish and seafood species would collapse completely before 2050. Their four-year study showed that fisheries collapse faster in ecosystems with fewer species – that means ocean fisheries would disappear at ever increasing rates as species are removed.

Loss of biodiversity also cuts the ocean’s ability to filter pollution and cope with climate change. This leads to more algal blooms and polluted water, and a huge loss of food for much of the earth’s poorer populations.

Japan has recently come clean on over-fishing their tuna quota for the past twenty years pushing several species to the brink of extinction.