Marine biologist Simon Hilbourne and Oceans Festival UK are launching a new campaign called Fish Free February, challenging the public to protect our oceans by removing seafood from their diet for 29 days.
Fish Free February is a campaign organised by international marine conservationists to reduce our collective impact on the oceans and the life that they hold, in a simple and effective way. Throughout the month of February, #FishFreeFebruary will encourage people to discuss the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices, putting the wellbeing of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making.
Not all fishing practices are bad – well-managed, small-scale fishing that uses selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, when it comes to the majority of our seafood, this is not the case. We mostly rely on industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the wellbeing of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. Fish Free February will shed light on these challenges, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions.
So what are the problems with fishing?
Overfishing: We are taking more than our fair share of fish, so much in fact that populations can’t repopulate fast enough. 90% of global fish stocks are fished to their maximum or overfished with an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish caught annually for human consumption. Compare that to the 63 billion mammals and birds killed each year for food and it becomes clear that there aren’t plenty more fish in the sea.
Plastic pollution: Discarded fishing nets make up 46% of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, far more than plastic bags or straws. This is when fishing gear is abandoned at sea. This might be due to breakages, losing items overboard and in some cases old or broken fishing gear is purposely dumped into the sea. Just because there is not fisherman attached, doesn’t mean those nets, hooks and lines aren’t still lethal. Large pieces of plastic pollution like fishing nets break down into microplastics which are then ingested by marine life. In 2018 a study found 100% of wild and shop-bought mussels to contain plastic.
Destructive fishing practices: Fishing often doesn’t just kill the species that you want to eat, bycatch and non-specific fishing methods (such as dynamite, long lines, trawlers, gill nets and electric pulse nets) mean that other species end up dead as well. Dolphins, sharks, turtles, corals and many other fish species – they’re all caught up in this mess as well.
Mislabelling: That’s right, fish isn’t always what it says on the tin. A study by Oceana found that as much as one third of seafood samples in the US were not what they were labelled as in restaurants and stores. This can have huge implications on the environment and also human health, but ultimately it highlights that we need far more stringent regulation and monitoring in this industry.
Farmed fish (aquaculture): 40% of the seafood we eat is farmed, but creating seafood farms often involves destroying existing habitats and therefore has a high carbon footprint. Chemicals and diseases associated with seafood farming also impact the surrounding waters and eventually affect wild populations.
Food waste: The Scottish farmed salmon industry is highly wasteful, with around 20% of fish never reaching harvest due to mortalities and escapes during production, according to its own figures. If this level of waste remains unchecked, a large proportion of the wild fish sourced to feed its salmon is also being wasted.
Human rights: In regions of the world such as South-East Asia, forced labour and human trafficking is rife within the fishing industry. It is very possible that the imported fish in our supermarkets has made its way from the sea to the shelves as a result of modern-day slavery.
Illegal fishing: Companies in the fishing industry don’t always follow the rules. As you might imagine, it can be fairly challenging to monitor the high-seas and currently illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is widespread. This exacerbates the negative impact of all of the issues associated with industrial fishing and means that companies continue their dirty work and there is no justice for our oceans.
How will Fish Free February change any of that?
Fish Free February aims to result in one, or several, of the following outcomes:
- Commit to eradicating seafood from their diet for 29 days and focus on plant-based, sustainable alternative ways of eating.
- Consciously reduce the amount of seafood in their diet to limit the degree of their personal impact. If continuing to consume seafood after February, people are encouraged to purchase items that are certified by an independent sustainable fishing moderator, such as the Marine Stewardship Council. People can also focus on trying to purchase seafood from small-scale, local and sustainable fisheries.
- Increase the discussion surrounding seafood and fishing practices, to increase the level of knowledge in public consciousness.
- Ask questions about where the fish they are being sold or served came from. Holding retailers and restaurants responsible for the products they sell will put pressure on them to source seafood from sustainable fisheries.
#FishFreeFebruary will send a clear message of protest against current standards of fishing and seafood farming. The ultimate goal is to generate a shift in the fishing industry and encourage a radical reduction in seafood consumption, opting for sustainable practices when fish is purchased. Additionally, Fish Free February will strengthen the connection that the public have with their food and to drive them to thoroughly consider where it has come from and how it has made its way to their plate.
“The fact of the matter is humans are taking far too many fish and other marine species from the sea. We simply must reduce the number of fish being caught. The best way to do that is to stop or greatly reduce eating seafood.” – Simon Hilbourne, Fish Free February Founder.
“We have the opportunity to tackle overfishing, plastic pollution and ecosystem collapse through the very simple act of eating less fish. If you weren’t quite able to commit to Veganuary or want another opportunity to do your part for the planet, please join the Fish Free February challenge!” – Jasmine Tribe, Founder of Oceans Festival UK.
“The ecological balance of our oceans is under huge stress from overfishing and I’ll be championing #FishFreeFebruary to highlight this. With such a vast amount of ocean plastic coming from the fishing industry this is also a great opportunity to highlight the ‘hidden’ plastic pollution in our food chain.” – Natalie Fee, Founder of City to Sea and author of ‘How to Save the World for Free’.
Pledge your support to go Fish Free this February at: www.fishfreefebruary.com/pledge.
Images: Simon Hilbourne
WIN a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!
This torch delivers 1200 lumens of light powered by an ion rechargeable battery. There are 4 levels of brightness with burn times between 2-20 hours. Battery charge level is indicated via coloured lights around the on/off button. The beam angle is 10°. The anodised aluminium alloy housing sealed by double ‘O’ rings with a max operating depth of 100m. SRP £125.00 which includes torch, charging cradle and battery.
To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:
In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported via the Marine Conservation Society that the UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act is the first legislation of its kind in nearly how many years?
- A) 60
- B) 50
- C) 40
Answer, A, B or C to the question above:
Northern Diver Christmas Sale starts TODAY!
This year Northern Diver’s Christmas offers are starting on Black Friday and running until midnight on New Year’s Eve!
There are some great deals to be had across the site – www.ndiver.com – from discounted Drysuits and Coltri compressors to 15% off their entire Lighting Section!
And if you can’t find the perfect present for the diver in your life, they have a choice of Gift Cards on offer. They are even giving you £25 extra when you purchase a £100 voucher!
The offers don’t stop there – there is FREE shipping on all orders over £100 and even a FREE gift with every online purchase.
Every purchase will get you entered into a great prize draw to win one of their new Electracore 3.0mm Rechargeable Heated Vests!
And should you find that you need to return any of your purchases, Northern Diver understand that Christmas may be a little different for everyone this year and you may not get to see every one over Christmas, so they have extended their Returns Period to the end of January 2021. (Valid for purchases made from Black Friday to end of December 2020).
Some unmissable offers to look out for are the Varilux Zoom, part of the Varilux Black & Gold Range, with its variable beam width; and Northern Diver’s 4mm compressed Neoprene Drysuit, the Voyager, which is on offer for an incredible £475!
For more information visit the Northern Diver website by clicking here.
Photo credit: Joe Duffy
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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.More Less
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