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.
- 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?
- A fold up booklet to encourage pupils to undertake research about fish and to create their own fish fact file.
- Examine the debate with this interactive, downloadable resource from the National Schools Partnership
- A PowerPoint map reading activity linked to marine habitats.
- Take a look at TES’ collection on sustainable development covering fishing, water and energy.
Further news resources
- Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.
- Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.
- A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.
- Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.
- A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.
In the news this week
Festivities, parades and fancy dress balls are marking the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second four-year term as president of the United States of America today.
Five men are expected to appear in court in India on Monday, accused of committing a fatal rape that has outraged the world’s largest democracy, sparking a national debate about the treatment of women.
The most celebrated cyclist of recent times on cusp of admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs
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.