Harbour porpoise, Atlantic salmon and kelp forests off the Antrim coast are just some of the distinctive wildlife and habitats found in Northern Irish waters. They face increasing pressure from pollution, industry, marine aggregate extraction and other offshore developments.
WWF Northern Ireland is campaigning for the urgent introduction of Northern Ireland Marine Legislation to ensure effective protection and maagement of Northern Ireland's seas through:
- A locally acccountable Northern Ireland Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
- A new system of integrated Marine Spatial Planning and licensing of the varied activities which take place in and/or affect the marine environment, which is necessary to address threats.
- The establishment of new network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and within them a suite of Highly Protected Marine Reserves (HPMRs) to protect and promote recovery of marine habitats and species.
WWF encourages consumers to choose sustainable fish when they are shopping or eating out. It has produced "Dishy Fishes", in conjunction with the Beech Hill Country House Hotel, to help keen local chefs cook ethically.
Time for Northern Ireland to commit to sustainable fish
WWF Northern Ireland urges retailers, restaurants and consumers to give Atlantic bluefin tuna a break. Atlantic bluefin tuna is in crisis, with stocks falling to below 15 per cent of maximum historical levels. WWF is calling on the seafood market to show it is committed to sustainable fish by stopping serving, selling, buying, eating Atlantic bluefin tuna – to help bring the endangered species back from the brink of collapse. Mourne Seafood Bar along with increasing numbers of retailers, restaurants, chefs and hospitality chains are joining the momentum to give Atlantic bluefin a break – and thousands of global consumers have pledged to stop eating the fish until its fragile stocks recover. These market players are calling for sustainable fisheries management that strictly follows scientific advice.
Geoff Nuttall, Head of WWF Northern Ireland said, “WWF is approaching retail, restaurant, chef and consumer organization contacts – urging them to publicly join the Atlantic bluefin tuna campaign. Retailers, restaurants, chefs and consumers can exert strong pressure on those involved in managing the fishery by avoiding bluefin tuna.”
A recent WWF analysis showed that reproducing stocks could disappear as soon as 2012 unless the current fishing frenzy stops.Atlantic bluefin tuna – whose raw flesh is the most prized for luxury sushi and sashimi earns a high price paid by Japan and other global markets thus fuelling overcapacity of fishing fleets, rampant illegal fishing and the massive expansion of tuna farms. This ‘gold rush’ for every last Atlantic bluefin is exerting unsustainable pressure on the species, and pushing it to the brink of collapse.
Bob McCoubrey of Mourne Seafood Bar add’s, “Unless we give Atlantic bluefin tuna a break now, days could be numbered for this magnificent species – but with your help, they stand a fighting chance of survival. Please join the Mourne Seafood Bar and add your name to the growing list of responsible chefs, retailers, restaurants. The tuna needs all the help it can get.”
Northern Ireland has a variety of local fish and seafood that are not under such pressure and totally undervalued such as mackerel and herring. WWF urges people to buy more local fish and to buy fish and seafood caught using sustainable fishing methods that don't damage the marine environment.
WWF has worked to convince decision-makers at ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the organization mandated to sustainably manage the fishery) to heed scientific advice and adopt measures that will enable the urgently needed recovery of the bluefin, yet these requests have fallen on deaf ears. The market (retailers, traders, restaurants, chefs, consumers) is now helping put pressure on fisheries managers to finally apply scentific advice – before it is too late.
For yet another season of industrial fishing, ICCAT Contracting Parties have allowed the high-tech boats out on the water yet again – defying scientific advice. Time is running out for Atlantic bluefin tuna, and this November’s ICCAT meeting in Paris, France, is seen as a key moment to do the right thing for tuna. A strong show of support from the global market would give a powerful message to decision-makers that enough is enough.
Long-term, WWF is working for the recovery of a thriving and sustainable Atlantic bluefin tuna fisheries. For more on the crisis – and to learn what we would lose if tuna disappears – see: www.panda.org/tuna