Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 22 January - Mackerel joins the growing number of fish species that are seeing their numbers drop

Concerns about the sustainability of large-scale fishing in the world’s oceans were today brought into sharp focus by news that even mackerel - previously thought of as having healthy quantities - are dropping in number.


Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 22 January

Mackerel joins the growing number of fish species that are seeing their numbers drop


By Irena Barker

Concerns about the sustainability of large-scale fishing in the world’s oceans were today brought into sharp focus by news that even mackerel – previously thought of as having healthy quantities – are dropping in number.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international watchdog, has taken the fish off its “fish to eat” list. A report from the University of California last year found that half of fishing areas worldwide face shrinking stocks, while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that over 70 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are in trouble.

The problem has dramatically increased over the past fifty years, because of increasing human population and demand for fish combined with high-tech fishing techniques.

The MSC says the north east Atlantic stocks of the mackerel have recently moved further into waters around Iceland and the nearby Faroe Islands in search of food, and local fishermen are now catching more than previously agreed. The Icelandic government has fought back, however, insisting that its fishermen are working at safe levels.

The council has also removed another edible fish, gurnard, off the sustainable list, because of a lack of information about population levels. Herrings, coley, sardines and Dover sole are still ok to eat, according to the MSC.

The row over the Atlantic mackerel stocks echoes previous disputes over fish, including the “Cod War” during the 1970s. During the stand-off, there were confrontations between British and Icelandic boats fishing for cod in Icelandic waters. Cod is now suffering severely depleted numbers.

A spokesman for the UK government said of the latest disagreement over mackerel: “The continued sustainability of mackerel is vitally important and is increasingly threatened by the actions of the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

“We are extremely concerned that an agreement on fishing rights has not yet been reached.”

The latest seafood advice from the MSC can be found at www.fishonline.org.



Questions


  • What does the word 'endangered' mean?
  • Why is it important that fishing levels are monitored and controlled?
  • Can you think of any other examples of environmental problems that have been created by human beings?
  • What could you do at home or at school to be more environmentally friendly?

Related resources


Fish fact file

  • A fold up booklet to encourage pupils to undertake research about fish and to create their own fish fact file.

Sustainable fishing: Pros and Cons

  • Examine the debate with this interactive, downloadable resource from the National Schools Partnership

Oceans and marine habitats

  • A PowerPoint map reading activity linked to marine habitats.

Sustainable Development collection

  • Take a look at TES’ collection on sustainable development covering fishing, water and energy.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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The revelation that some beef burgers on sale in the UK and Ireland contained horse meat and pork has ignited debate on the differing attitudes to what meat humans should or shouldn’t eat.



In the news archive index