In the Red - fish that are best left in the ocean

Are you eating an endangered species? Does farmed salmon do more harm than good?

Feature story - June 17, 2008
Far too often, we're left without answers when we're trying to find out if seafood on our supermarket shelves is sustainable -until recently it's been almost impossible to know. Now we are providing an international red list of fish that both consumers and retailers should avoid.

Cod is seriously overfished in many parts of the world and one of the 20 species on the red list.

The red list is available at our new seafood website, which also provides background information on the overfishing crisis and advice for industry and retailers on developing sustainable seafood sourcing policies.

Our international red list includes 20 endangered species, including tuna, cod and shark, which companies must stop selling unless they can prove that the fish stocks they source from are in a healthy state, and are not fished using destructive techniques. Our offices in Spain, the US and Canada are also launching national red lists, together with assessments of national retailer seafood procurement policies.

seaffod red list

The fish species on the red list are included because:

-   the species has a life history that makes it vulnerable to overexploitation

-   the species is sourced from overfished and depleted stocks, or is being fished at such high levels the stock will soon be overfished

-  the fishing methods used to catch the species are highly destructive to other marine life and/or marine habitats

All over the world, fish stocks are in crisis. Aquaculture operations - fish farms - are adding to the problems when they're not sustainable.

The need for action is acutely clear. Cod is one of the species on the list. The Grand Banks in Newfoundland was once the world's most productive fishery but it collapsed completely in 1992 and has never recovered. Right now huge industrial fishing fleets are chasing dwindling tuna stocks to the brink of extinction.

Sustainable seafood is catching on

The required solutions can be implemented now. Indeed some are already being implemented. Major UK food retailers M&S and Waitrose have sustainable seafood policies. Suppliers like Young's Bluecrest, are now leaders in the sustainable seafood. These are the examples the seafood industry need to be following.

Our new website helps retailers and seafood processors to understand what the problems are and how they can develop a sustainable seafood purchasing policy. They have a powerful and unique role to play in turning the crisis facing our oceans around, but they need to act, now, if they want to ensure that customers like you have fish on your plates for years to come.

The seafood website will keep you updated with news from around the world of how supermarkets and food chains are meeting the challenge of sustainable seafood.

Global marine reserves

You can read more about why we're campaigning for a global network of fully-protected marine reserves, covering 40 percent of our oceans: they're an essential way to protect our seas from the ravages of climate change, to restore the health of fish stocks, and to protect ocean life from habitat destruction and collapse. You can also catch up with the latest news from the Arctic Sunrise in the Mediterranean, confronting the overfishing of endangered bluefin tuna.

If we want fish on our plate tomorrow we need marine reserves today.

Take action

Add your name to the call to protect the world's oceans.

Donate now

We don't accept money from governments or corporations, but rely on millions of people all over the world like you to keep us going.