© Juergen Freund / WWF

Why we need to act

With more than three quarters of global fisheries already fished up to or beyond biological limits, we have entered a period of considerable instability for the seafood industry and local fishing communities.

The threaths

  • Pirate fishing: Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) is one of the main impediments to achieve sustainable fisheries. IUU fishing represents a major loss of income, particularly to poor fishing communities who depend on fishing for food and income.
  • Poor management and regulations: for many global fisheries, rules are not strong enough nor are they sufficiently monitored, controlled and enforced. Regional Fisheries Management Organisations(RFMOs) are failing to improve the sustainability of fish stocks. Bycatch provoced by intensive, industrial fishing is also a serious problem endangering many marine species.

  • Demand and consumption: Fishing happens largely beyond the public eye. Many fish processors, buyers and retailers don´t really know where the fish they are selling comes from or if it meets sustainability criteria. Only when our seafood is traceable can markets and legal systems be effective.

  • Return on investment: The global fishing industry is losing more than 50 billion dollars a year in potential benefits due to badly managed fisheries. The transition to more sustainable fishing needs to be supported by a strong financial framework that addresses the fishing crisis and marine ecosystem loss.

Global trends in the state of marine stocks, WWF Living Planet Report 2014


Some of the facts

  • Illegal fishing makes up an estimated 15 to 20 % of the world's total catch.
  • Pacific bluefin tuna stocks have decreased to historically low levels 
  • The impact of bycatch on dolphins and porpoises is huge:WWF estimates that 6 cetacean species may disappear in the next decade due to fishing gear entaglement
  • With only 100 left, the world´s rarest dolphin, the Maui dolphin, is almost extinct 

WWF is urging EU fisheries ministers to increase penalties for illegal fishing and trading.

© Claus Christensen

The consequences

  • Fish is a high-value food source on which many communities depend for their income and as a source of protein. If we continue to fish the way we do, we will end up without our favorite fish dish in future.

  • Fishermen are facing unfair competition and local fishing communities are running out of business due to IUU fishing.

© Patricia Mallam WWF South Pacific

Increasing concerns about fish procurement

The entire chain of custody includes everything from transporting, trading, processing, and packaging, to selling of fish in restaurants and in food service sectors.

Many retailers and seafood brand owners are becoming increasingly concerned about where their fish products come from and how they have been caught. 

Commercial fishing is on the treshold of a major transformation where seafood products become routinably traceable. The opportunity to effectively trace our seafood has emerged with raising public awareness of the fishing crisis, demanding sustainable seafood and better, more responsible markets. 

More info here

© avlxyz / Flickr.com


What is bycatch?

Bycatch occurs because modern fishing gear is very strong, often covers an extensive area and can be highly unselective: it catches not only the target species but also juveniles and species like dolphins, marine turtles and seabirds.

Each year , bycatch kills:

  • 300,000+ small whales, dolphins and porpoises
  • 100 million sharks
  • 250,000+ loggerhead and leatherback turtles
  • Thousands of seabirds
  • Billions of unwanted fish and invertebrates