Fish and chips: Britain’s favorite dish is harming marine life


Britain’s love of fish and chips is harming endangered marine species, such as whales, dolphins and sharks.

Fish and chips could soon disappear from the menu in Britain, according to new research, as our love of seafood is killing dozens of species.

Conservationists want the government to help save the planet – by stopping us from eating so much seafood.

And our demand for whitefish, like haddock and cod, affects species at risk, like whales, dolphins and sharks.

Why can fish and chips be removed from the menu?

The WWF report, entitled Risky Seafood Business, carried out a survey to determine the amount of fish consumed in the UK. It also surveyed the supply chains of 33 of the most popular seafood products to determine the risk each poses in terms of production and consumption.

The WWF says a total of 887,000 tons of seafood were consumed by people in 2019, which equates to 5.2 billion servings of fish and chips.

The report says more than 250 endangered, threatened and protected species – such as whales, dolphins and sharks – have been impacted by fishing supplying UK markets.

In the report, mussels, sardines and herring posed a relatively low risk, but swordfish, tuna and squid were considered high risk.

The WWF report said threatened and endangered species like whales were affected by Britain’s desire for fish and chips. Credit: OLIVIER MORIN/AFP via Getty Images

What does the WWF want to happen?

WWF is urging the government to address the issue and take action to ensure that all seafood consumed and processed in the UK is from a sustainable source by 2030.

Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF, called for an urgent effort to tighten regulations.

She said: ‘The ocean is the blue heart of our planet and we ignore its health at our peril. Protecting this precious resource should be the top priority of all fisheries around the world, but for too long unsustainable practices have gone unchecked, depleting the ocean of life.

“Measures to strengthen sustainable seafood certification throughout the supply chain are an essential first step, but they are not the end of the story.

“Alongside retailers’ efforts to improve transparency in global seafood supply chains, setting fundamental environmental standards for all food sold in the UK – including seafood – would have an impact We urge the UK government to play its part and take this step.

How can the UK get seafood from a more sustainable source?

Seafood products with lower environmental and social impact could provide relatively sustainable protein intake and could, according to estimates, increase global production by 36-74% by 2050.

The Marine Conservation Society says one way to eat sustainably is to avoid red-rated fish.

On his website he said: ‘Our main advice has been and remains that if you eat fish you should avoid what we call red graded. The red rating indicates that the fish come from the least sustainable fisheries or farming systems.

A few supporters of the environmental organization WWF, some of them dressed as fish, stage a protest against overfishing holding signs reading ‘Stop ruining our oceans’ outside the Council of the European Union building in Brussels on 13 may 2013

“We recommend avoiding these fish and only eating the ones we call green. The green rating indicates the fish caught or farmed in the most sustainable way. That way you eat the ones that are not under threat.

Some seafood on the red list includes brown crab and lobster, anglerfish from the North Sea, and there are mixed scores for haddock, cod and whiting from the Celtic Sea.

The last Good fish guide assessed 656 options for the species and areas where they are fished, with 148 now on the best choice, or green list, but 161 classified as red as seafood to avoid.


Comments are closed.