Greenpeace Red Fish List launched in New Zealand

Feature story - August 10, 2008
Today Greenpeace launched the New Zealand Red Fish List – a guide to help consumers avoid buying fish that comes from the most unsustainable fisheries.

Sad fish at the launch of the NZ Red Fish List at Kelly Tarlton's in Auckland

Sad fish at the launch of the NZ Red Fish List at the Auckland waterfront.

Planet Earth could be called Planet Ocean. Seen from space the Earth is covered in a blue mantle. The continents are dwarfed by the oceans and the immensity of the marine realm that both connects us and sustains us. They are home to 80 per cent of the life on planet Earth and provide food for millions - but they are under threat.

If we want future generations to be able to eat fish we need to adopt a truly sustainable approach to fishing and fish consumption.

Without the ocean there would be no life but modern industrial fishing fleets with their giant ships and state-of-the-art equipment are steadily scouring the oceans of life. Destructive fishing practices, over fishing, lack of marine reserves and climate change are threatening the survival of fisheries, fishing communities, and the health of marine ecosystems. Once believed to be an inexhaustible resource, our oceans are now becoming depleted of important fish species.

Between 1950 and 2005 the amount of fish harvested worldwide increased sevenfold. Today at least 75 percent of the world's fish stocks are considered as fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. Some have had their habitats destroyed through destructive fishing practices like bottom trawling. Still others (including seabirds, seals and dolphins) are killed by mistake and left dead or dying. New Zealand is a small country with a long coast line surrounded by a lot of ocean. New Zealanders have a deep affinity with the sea. Many of our ancestors both Maori and European alike came here by sea and they and their descendents were sustained by its bounty. The ocean is in our blood.

We all want to ensure that the sea will provide for us in generations to come but far too often we're left without answers when trying to find sustainable seafood on our supermarket shelves. To rectify this, Greenpeace has produced a Red List of seafood so that both consumers and retailers, at the very least, know what to avoid when buying fish.

The red fish list

Red List Wallet GuideThe red list is available at our new seafood website. The New Zealand red fish list includes 12 species including orange roughy, hoki, snapper and squid, which consumers should stop buying and 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.

The fish species on the red list are included because:

-   the species by nature is particularly 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

A global response to a global problem

All over the world, fish stocks are in crisis. The need for action is acutely clear. 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. In New Zealand Hoki  (a relative of cod) is currently one of New Zealand's largest fisheries and, depite being certified as sustainable under the international Marine Stewardship Council, it has one of the greatest ecological impacts of any New Zealand fishery. The hoki fishery is responsible for killing hundreds of NZ fur seals, albatrosses and petrels each year, plus  bycatch of the globally threatened basking sharks and impacts on seafloor communities.

The oceans crisis is a global problem and it needs a global response. Greenpeace offices in Austria, France, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, U.K. and the U.S. have also launched national red lists, together with assessments of national retailer seafood procurement policies. This is a global campaign on a global issue and it's already working!

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. More in the seafood industry need to be following these examples.

Our new seafood 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 around the oceans crisis, but they need to act, now if they want to ensure that customers like you have fish on your plates for years to come.

Please familarise yourself with the fish in the red list, download a copy to print, tell your friends - and avoid buying unsustainable seafood!

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.

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

Red Fish list

Grab yourself a copy of the Red Fish List


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