Is your seafood sustainable?

Greenpeace activists stir up Brussels seafood exhibition

Press release - 24 April, 2007
This morning Greenpeace activists have challenged the exhibitors and attendees at the European Seafood Exposition 2007, currently taking place in Brussels, about the sustainability of the seafood being bought and sold at the event. A group of activist has displayed a banner reading "Is your seafood sustainable?" at the main front entrance of the Exhibition. Meanwhile, 35 activists are inside the exhibition calling on delegates and stall holders to only sell and market sustainable seafood.

Greenpeace activists display a banner reading 'Is your seafood sustainable?' at the front entrance of the European Seafood Exposition. Greenpeace is challenging the exhibitors and attendees at the exhibition to consider the sustainability of the seafood being bought and sold at the event. Many businesses trading at the event are taking seafood from overexploited stocks using fishing techniques that are environmentally destructive.

According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization data, over three quarters of all commercially valuable fish stocks are already fully exploited, overexploited or depleted (1). Worldwide, up to 90% of stocks of large predatory fish like cod, tuna and swordfish have already been fished out (2). All these and hundreds of other destructively fished seafood species are being marketed at the European Seafood Exposition 2007, the world's largest seafood event.

"Retailers, suppliers, processors and the fishermen themselves share responsibility for ensuring that the seafood they trade comes from fully sustainable sources," said Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace UK campaigner, in Brussels. "Unfortunately many businesses trading at this event are taking seafood from massively overexploited stocks using fishing techniques that are highly destructive of our seas. We're here to tell them that they need to change the way they do business.' He added, 'Selling sustainable seafood is not only about protecting the environment: it is good for business. If companies continue to source from depleted stocks they risk putting themselves out of business. Without sustainable practise, many fish stocks will soon be depleted and therefore commercially useless."

A recent survey of European consumers showed that nearly 80% of those surveyed consider the environmental impacts of seafood to be important in their purchasing decisions (3). As a consequence of this, many of the most advanced companies are changing the way they catch and market seafood, abandoning the most exploited species and destructive fishing techniques in favour of more sustainable options. Businesses must start to acknowledge the benefits to the marine environment of large scale marine reserves - areas closed to destructive fishing and other harmful activities for the marine environment (4).

"The establishment of large scale, fully protected marine reserves is urgently needed to ensure the protection of marine ecosystems, and to allow exploited fish-stocks to recover," added Knowles. "If the seafood industry is serious about ensuring the long term sustainability of their business and protecting the marine environment, they should support the immediate establishment of fully protected marine reserves."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International media officer, in Brussels, tel. +34 647 241 502. Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace UK campaigner, in Brussels, tel. +44 (0)7900 066849Pictures available from Greenpeace International Photo Desk, Laura Lombardi, mobile, +31(0)6 29001162, tel. +31 20 718 2054.

Notes: (1) FAO, 2004, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, biennial report) (2) Myers RA, Worm B, 2003, Rapid World Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities, Nature 423: 280-3. (3) (Seafood Choices Alliance, 2006, Constant Cravings, The European Consumer and Sustainable seafood Choices). (4) Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully protected marine reserves covering 40% of marine ecosystems as an essential way to protect the full range of marine life and restore health of global fish-stocks. In Europe Greenpeace is demanding that EU member states include the provision for such a network in a new marine law - the Marine Strategy Directive. As part of this campaign, the MY Arctic Sunrise is in the North Sea to draw attention to the fact that fishing vessels are rapidly trawling the cod towards commercial extinction.