Seafood consumers being misled by campaign

29 April, 2015

Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, said it was disappointing that a WWF Campaign is misrepresenting the status of the world's fisheries by confusing the data.

The WWF is giving the world's fisheries an undeserved bad image by grouping "fully exploited" and "over exploited" fisheries in the same category to describe a so-called "troubling trend" that "ninety per cent of global fish stocks are either over-exploited or fully exploited."(1)

"To group fully exploited fisheries, which are fisheries operating at a sustainable level, with overexploited fisheries just doesn't make any sense," Senator Colbeck said.

"A fully exploited fishery produces catches that are close to their maximum sustainable limits and is in no way related to overfishing."

"This is a complete misuse of the data and is not a true reflection of the status of our fisheries. The WWF is misleading seafood consumers and the broader community."

"You really have to wonder what their real motives are. This sort of cheap stunt doesn't help anyone but it does reduce the credibility of WWF."

"The WWF are contradicting themselves by on the one hand publically endorsing the Marine Stewardship Council, which considers fully exploited fish stocks to be sustainable, and on the other hand claiming fully exploited fish socks lead to over fishing. It just doesn't make any sense."

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines fully exploited fisheries in the following terms - "The fishery is operating at or close to an optimal yield level, with no expected room for further expansion."(2)

The FAO defines over exploited fisheries as "being exploited at above a level which is believed to be sustainable in the long term, with no potential room for further expansion and a higher risk of stock depletion/collapse."


In fact, the FAO's 2014 report State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture shows that about 60 per cent of the world's fish stocks are fully exploited (sustainably fished), about one quarter are overexploited and about 10 per cent are underexploited.(3)


(1) http://www.wwf.org.au/?13320/UQ-scientist-helps-value-the-ocean-at-US24-trillion

(2) http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf

(3) http://www.fao.org/fishery/sofia/en

290415 Seafood consumers being misled by campaign
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