Fresh from the Forest & Bird website
Forest & Bird is proud to provide NZ consumers with the Best Fish Guide 12-13, which ranks the ecological sustainability of seafood from our commercial fisheries.
Download all links by clicking here
This comprehensive guide takes into account the state of fish stocks, the amount of seabird, marine mammal and non-target fish bycatch, the damage done to marine habitats and other ecological effects caused by the fishing to decide on it’s rating.
Our combined buying power can help take pressure off the most over-exploited species and alleviate the harm caused by the most damaging fisheries.
Our choices can also influence government policies, change fishing practices and help ensure that fisheries are managed sustainably.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why’s it so important to protect our oceans?
New Zealand has one of the largest marine areas in the world, covering more than 1% of the Earth’s surface. Its marine area is also incredibly diverse, from the sub-tropical oceans in the north, to our temperate waters around the mainland, to the cool sub-Antarctic waters in the south.
Many of our marine species are found nowhere else in the world. Scientists estimate that more than 80% of New Zealand’s biodiversity is found in our oceans, and much more is yet to be discovered. About 15,000 marine species are known, while it is estimated that another 50,000 species are yet to be discovered – new species are being found all the time.
Our marine area is also a vital part of our economy, supporting out $1.5 billion fishing industry and our $20 billion tourism industry.
It is also central to our national identity: most New Zealanders live near the ocean and have a close relationship with the marine environment. We collect kaimoana or seafood, swim, dive, snorkel and sail, and appreciate the variety of marine life.
2. Why are our oceans under threat?
New Zealand’s marine environment is under increasing pressure from human activities. Climate change, pollution, coastal development, mineral exploration and mining create cumulative effects that are having a detrimental impact on the health of the marine environment and marine life.
Fishing operations have the most significant impact on the marine environment, both through the amount of fish caught and the methods used to catch it.
• Some fishing practices, such as bottom trawling and dredging, used by fisheries in New Zealand waters damage the marine environment.
• Over the last 50 years fishing technologies have developed to such an extent that the scale of fishing operations now exceeds a level that is sustainable. The UN estimates that 70% of the world’s fisheries are now exploited to their limits, over-exploited or depleted.
• Many fisheries also catch significant levels of by-catch – species such as albatrosses, dolphins, sea lions and other non-target species.
• According to Statistics New Zealand fishing uses more energy than any other industry sector, increasing by 40% in the last decade.
New Zealand prides itself on our clean, green image, and promotes its fisheries management as world-leading.
Compared to some fisheries, this is partly true – New Zealand does take a comprehensive management approach and is recognised as being among the best.
But comparing ourselves to countries with no management or very poor fisheries management does not mean that we should be proud of our situation. New Zealand is still far from living up to its slogan “If it’s from New Zealand, it’s sustainable.”
Wild fisheries typically take place in open waters, with low levels of enforcement of rules that aim to ensure sustainability, and few observers to report any breaches or problems.
New Zealand’s fisheries quota management system is a rights-based system that entitles quota holders to a “right to fish,” which encourages them to fish to the maximum level allowed under their quota, rather than take a more sustainable approach.
• Allowing significant waste of fisheries resources.
• Having no upper size limit and allowing fish that have gathered to spawn to be caught, reducing the ability of fish populations to reproduce.
• Targeting the maximum (rather than an optimum or precautionary) yield.
• Lacking information about fish stocks and how sustainable catches are.
• Allowing or poorly managing levels of marine mammal and seabird deaths, including endangered species.
• Using destructive fishing techniques, such as bottom trawling and dredging, which destroy habitats and seabed life.
3. What are some of the most environmentally damaging fishing methods?
We have a comprehensive guide on the various fishing methods used in NZ waters and their environmental impact here.
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4. What is Forest & Bird’s Vision?
Forest & Bird has a vision for a more sustainable fishery by 2030:
• A healthy and diverse marine environment supporting an abundance of marine life, where profitable fisheries operate alongside other activities.
• Adverse impacts of fishing on the marine environment have been repaired or mitigated, and “nursery areas” important for replenishment of populations are protected.
• New Zealand meets or exceeds world’s best practice in fisheries management and environmental practice, so it can market truly sustainable products worldwide.
Forest & Bird hopes that making seafood consumers aware of problems behind our fisheries management will help them make better choices and encourage our fisheries to improve their practices.
As a member of NAEE UK , I support the need for this Fish Guide.
- Prince optimistic for fisheries (bbc.co.uk)
- Philippines’ Natural Resources – on the Verge of Destruction (environmentechnology.wordpress.com)
Features associated with arable farming, such as hedgerows, are essential to keep several bird species alive. The Guardian reports
Livestock grazing and features associated with arable farming – such as hedgerows – create environmental conditions that certain birds currently depend on for food, shelter and breeding, the authors report.
But as industrial farming methods eliminate these habitats, these species are threatened with extinction, said Hugh Wright, a researcher in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, and lead author of the study, published in Conservation Letters earlier this month.
“There really is no hope for these species if industrial farming continues unchecked,” he told SciDev.Net.
Although reintroducing or mimicking traditional farming techniques has had success in conserving wildlife in Europe, “conservation in the developing world has always focused on pristine forest ecosystems and has paid little attention to where farming might be beneficial,” Wright said.
The study found 29 bird species threatened by the decline of traditional agriculture in developing countries. This number could be much higher if all organisms, rather than just birds, are considered, as evidence from Europe suggests that traditional farming also benefits reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and even plants, Wright said.
Farmers can benefit too from protecting biodiversity since it helps to justify traditional agriculture and could prevent big agri-businesses from forcing farmers off their land, he added. Also, by offering farmers economic incentives to continue these beneficial practices, governments can ensure that conservation and development move forward together.
Tim Benton, professor of population ecology at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, agreed that traditional agricultural methods are a valuable conservation tool, but said that adopting techniques aimed at saving a few iconic species can disadvantage farmers.
“Applying low-intensity farming instead of industrial methods often pits livelihoods against conservation, and can impose limits on a region’s development,” he said.
Instead, he said that “land sparing” — where some areas are intensively farmed while others are left primarily for conservation — can lead to more wildlife and better crop yields.
There is no one strategy, but a “middle ground” that combines land sparing and traditional farming methods to suit local conditions could be the best conservation strategy, he added.
Wright agreed that a mixed approach can maximise biodiversity. “You need to assess which species you have, how feasible it is to protect them, what it will cost and social issues as well before coming up with a conservation strategy for an area,” he said.
- Threatened species need farmland (bbc.co.uk)
- Farming crucial for threatened species in developing world (eurekalert.org)
- Oops! Threatened species need [actively farmed] farmland (junkscience.com)
- Human agriculture key to survival for many threatened species (news.bioscholar.com)
- Wildlife Update : Turtle doves and partridges among wild birds in steep decline in Britain (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Turtle doves and partridges among wild birds in steep decline in Britain (guardian.co.uk)
- Three-quarters of UK butterfly species in decline (guardian.co.uk)
- N.J. Audubon’s novel market approach helps local farmers (philly.com)
- EU warns river wildlife at risk (bbc.co.uk)
Population and Farming : One Quarter of World’s Agricultural Land ‘Highly Degraded’, UN Report Concludes
On Monday, the UN released the results of the first ever global study on the state of Earth’s land. The main finding: 25 percent of all land is “highly degraded”� making it unsuitable for agriculture. The implications of this finding are enormous; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that farm output must increase by 70 percent by 2050 to accommodate the food needs of an estimated 9 billion humans. Environmental News Network Reports | http://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature
That translates into another billion tons of grain foods and 200 million tons of livestock meat (note: as standards of living rise in developing nations, the demand for high-quality meat also rises).
The problem or challenge here is that most of the world’s arable land is already being farmed, and often using primitive or unsustainable farming practices. These practices (e.g., over-tilling) can lead to soil erosion, loss of surface water and loss of biodiversity.
For further information: http://www.matternetwork.com/2011/12/one-quarter-worlds-agricultural-land.cfm
- S&T essential to boosting Phl agriculture-Angara (jasondeasis.wordpress.com)
- U.N. Warns 25 Percent Of Land Highly Degraded, Trend Must Reverse To Feed Population (huffingtonpost.com)
- UN warns 25 pct of world land highly degraded (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- UN Warns 25 Pct of World Land Highly Degraded (abcnews.go.com)
- UN warns 25 pct of world land highly degraded (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- UN: farmers must produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed population (guardian.co.uk)
- UN warns 25 pct of world land highly degraded (sfgate.com)
- World food prices stabilize at high levels: FAO (theglobeandmail.com)
- Degraded land threatens food supply, U.N. finds (sfgate.com)
- Africa Can Increase Food Yield Despite Climate Change – ECA (foodsecuritysm.wordpress.com)
- FAO: Traditional Crops Need Protection from Climate Change (isaaa.org)
- New projection shows global food demand doubling by 2050 (eurekalert.org)
- Agriculture investment, empowering women key to food security: FAO (agricultureafrica.wordpress.com)
Farmland in parts of Japan is no longer safe because of high levels of radiation in the soil, scientists have warned, as the country struggles to recover from the Fukushima atomic disaster. From Seed Daily. | http://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature and http://twitter.com/#!/NAEE_UK
A team of international researchers said food production would likely be “severely impaired” by the elevated levels of caesium found in soil samples across eastern Fukushima in the wake of meltdowns at the tsunami-hit plant.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, suggests farming in neighbouring areas may also suffer because of radiation, although levels discovered there were within legal limits.
The study looked at caesium-137, which has a half life of 30 years and therefore affects the environment for decades.
The legal limit for concentrations in soil where rice is grown of the sum of caesium-134 and caesium-137, which are always produced together, is 5,000 becquerels per kilogram (2.2 pounds) in Japan.
“The east Fukushima prefecture exceeded this limit and some neighbouring prefectures such as Miyagi, Tochigi and Ibaraki are partially close to the limit under our upper-bound estimate,” the study said.
“Estimated and observed contaminations in the western parts of Japan were not as serious, even though some prefectures were likely affected to some extent,” it added.
“Concentration in these areas are below 25 becquerels per kilogram, which is far below the threshold for farming. However, we strongly recommend each prefecture to quickly carry out some supplementary soil samplings at city levels to validate our estimates.”
The study said “food production in eastern Fukushima prefecture is likely severely impaired by the caesium-137 loads of more than 2,500 becquerels per kilogram”.
It is also likely production is “partially impacted in neighbouring provinces such as Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Chiba where values of more than 250 becquerels per kilogram cannot be excluded”, it said.
The study was led by Teppei Yasunari of the Universities Space Research Association in the US state of Maryland.
He and his team used daily observations in each Japanese prefecture and computer-simulated particle dispersion models based on weather patterns.
Japan has been on alert for the impact of radiation since an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the northeast of the country on March 11, crippling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Its cooling systems were knocked offline and reactors were sent into meltdown, resulting in the leaking of radiation into the air, oceans and food chain.
Shipments of a number of farm products from the affected regions were halted and even those that were not subject to official controls have found little favour with Japanese consumers wary of the potential health effects.
An official in charge of soil examination for the agriculture ministry said government tests had been conducted on soil in Fukushima and five other prefectures earlier this year.
He said contamination levels in Fukushima had exceeded 5,000 becquerels per kilogram, but were below that level elsewhere.
“We are now conducting further checks covering 3,000 spots in Tokyo and 14 prefectures and plan to publish the results later,” he said.
- Regions of Japan deemed too radioactive to grow crops (theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com)
- Fukushima rice banned by Japan (guardian.co.uk)
- Japan:High radioactivity detected in some Fukushima rice (laaska.wordpress.com)
- Japan radioactive levels probed (bbc.co.uk)
- Japan blocks rice from Fukushima (bbc.co.uk)
- Japan bans Fukushima rice after radiation breaches limits (guardian.co.uk)
- Staple Scare: Radioactive Rice in Fukushima (blogs.wsj.com)
- Japan bans Fukushima rice (telegraph.co.uk)
- You: Cesium in incinerator dust across east Japan (search.japantimes.co.jp)
- You: Kano hints rethink in testing rice for cesium (japantimes.co.jp)