Science - Enough fish in the sea?

1st March 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Welcome to the Seychelles, best known as an idyllic tourist destination but also home to one of the world's largest tuna processing plants, writes David Harrison.

The tranquillity hides a conservation storm over the quantity of fish caught and methods used. These were key topics at a conference here last December, and could aid classroom debate on sustainability.

On one side are scientists who say tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean are healthy, but a crisis is looming. They want action to cut the fishing fleet's capacity. On the other side are industry figures who want capacity frozen at its current level.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups are critical of "over-fishing" and the "bycatch" - especially endangered sharks, turtles and rays - which die on board or in the nets. Some 60,000 sharks are killed in this region each year.

The groups blame this waste on fish aggregating devices (FADs), man-made rafts that attract tuna and other fish - into nets that are up to 2km long.

Greenpeace does not want FADs used at all, and says UK supermarkets are committed to selling FAD-free tuna. Sustainable "pole and line" fishing is increasingly popular but satisfies only about 5 per cent of the market.

At the heart of the issue is the industry's struggle to meet global demand for tuna while attempting to maintain sustainable fish sources.

What else?

Get pupils researching the plight of endangered species and creating a podcast in lessons from mcfi. bit.lyEndangeredSpeciesLesson

Debate the pros and cons of sustainable fishing using this lesson plan from National Schools Partnership. bit.lySustainableFishing.

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