March 2014 – News

While silver eels are still considered to be critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) all of the evidence this year points to the fact that they appear to be making something of a comeback around the UK. The Independent reported that at least one million immature eels would – having made their way thousands of miles from their birthplace in the Sargasso Sea – enter the River Parrett which flows through Dorset and Somerset. Volunteers were on hand to catch the eels in nets and carry them past dams, weirs and other obstructions which are seen as being a major cause of the decline of this species. The original article can be read here.

Japan has been forced to stop whaling in the Antarctic. The nation had caught around 3600 minke whales since 2005, claiming that they were conducting scientific research (although the whale meat was sold commercially once it was landed). Australia had been taking legal action since 2010 to try and stop the practice, with the UN’s International Court of Justice voting in Australia’s favour this month. While the Japanese government stated it was “deeply disappointed by the decision” they said they would abide by it. Read more here.

The so called Mackerel War appears to be coming to some kind of conclusion. The conflict began when Iceland and the Faroe Islands, having fished out their stocks of blue whiting, switched commercial attention to mackerel. In 2010 these two nations increased their mackerel quota from a few thousand tons to several hundred thousand tons per year. EU nations, particularly Britain and Ireland, were furious, as was Norway, as all of these nations had fished for mackerel in a sustainable way, and Iceland and the Faroe’s quota increases would seriously damage the long term sustainability of this species. After years of wrangling and arguing it appears that this issue is coming to a conclusion. The BBC reports that the Faroe Islands would be able to catch 12% of the total quota, the EU and Norway around 72% and Iceland and Russia around 16%. While many commercial fishermen were unhappy with the decision (especially those from Scotland who will see their quota reduced) the agreement does at least mean that some form of stock management has been agreed.

This month also saw the news that a Great White Shark was on its way to the UK. The shark – named Lydia – was tagged and could therefore be tracked as it travelled across the Atlantic. While the shark passed within 1000 miles of the Irish and Cornish coast it did not come any closer to the British Isles. It was thought that Lydia may pregnant and may be heading to the Mediterranean to give birth.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight Campaign returned at the start of March. In an hour long show Fearnley-Whittingstall reviewed the progress that had been made in banning discards and beginning the process of creating Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around England. Fearnley-Whittingstall also aimed criticism at Tescos which is still selling tinned tuna which is caught using destructive methods. Read more here.