19 Sep 2008

Talk like a pirate and get wise re tuna

Arrrrh Mateys! This is apparently the day to unleash your inner buccaneer - yes I am reliably informed that it is Talk Like a Pirate Day today. That is of course talk like a pirate not act like one - sadly there are still to many real pirates out there on the seas - estimates put losses to pirates at $13 to $16bn per year - no joke indeed but this leads me seemlessly on to tinned tuna and how the pirates of the industry are putting it in trouble...

Photo: Taken by Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish councillor Rob Walker when working on the rigs

The UK is the second biggest consumer in the world of tuna after the USA and globally tuna exports are worth more than any other fish species, at around $2.7 billion per year. Greenpeace recently launched a report - Tinned Tuna's Hidden Catch - it explains how sea turtles, sharks and other fish species are all being wiped out in their thousands - caught in the nets and on the long-lines of the global tuna industry. In 2005 this 'accidental bycatch' amounted to some 100,000 tonnes worldwide and you would have thought by now with all the press coverage at that time that things would be sorted....?

Photo: Greenpeace website

Infact some of Britain's top selling brands, like John West and Princes, are among the worst at ensuring the fish they sell are caught using sustainable methods. Greenpeace have produced a league table ranking these large tuna retailers according to various sustainablility criteria, and John West, the nation's biggest tuna brand, is languishing right at the bottom. Until things change, John West are officially John Worst. See here. Greenpeace are calling on us to write to John Worst - see more here.

It is amazing that despite rampant over-fishing and depletion of world fish populations, globally, we are now feeding 14 million tons of edible wild-caught fish to factory farm animals, like pigs and chickens, each year!! That amounts to over six times the amount of fish the entire U.S. population eats annually. Apparently wild fish fed to animals on a massive scale include perfectly edible anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and herring, which are ground into a cheap fishmeal and sold for animal feed. In other words a protein source is being fed to animals on corporate farms with a 90% energy loss. Given the global food crisis and the over-harvesting of many of the ocean's commercial fish varieties, careful analysis of resource use by the global industrial food complex is becoming a life or death imperative.

So me hearty's get thee writin' and er campaign'in - OK I know I can't do this pirate talk thing...

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