The Future of Sustainable Fishing
A major concern for the future of marine biodiversity is the sustainability of global fisheries. Current solutions to minimize the strain on fish populations and ensure thriving fish stocks are strict fishing regulations and ethical certifications. However, these solutions show to have mixed results and a new approach is needed to tackle the issue of overfishing and safeguard marine life.
This is what Divya and her team at InSeason Fish focused on in their recently published study. To realise the goal of sustainable fisheries they look at it from the perspective of common pool resources. Fish populations living in it can be considered a ‘commons’ as they are a limited resource but nobody in particular owns it or has a claim on it. Anyone can take fish from the ocean, making fish populations vulnerable to overexploitation. Rather than having seafood production and production decided for by the government or just looking at fishermen to reach the goal of sustainable fishing, fishing commons consider the practices of the full seafood supply chain, from producers to retailers to consumers, and how they are connected to each other.
To explore the potential of fishing commons further, Divya and her colleagues set out an very expansive study in 4 large cities in India. They surveyed over 500 seafood eaters to asked them about their fish eating habits, knowledge about seafood and its sourcing and their personal background. They also visited 400 restaurants to see what kind of fish they serve, where it comes from and about fishermen.
All the information Divya has gathered is crucial in order to identify where the seafood production and consumption cycle can be influenced to make it more sustainable. Divya believes that ethical seafood consumption is about citizenship, collective action and building community.
People need to become more aware of the fishing practices and more connected to their fishing communities. To increase awareness on both the retailer and consumer InSeason Fish has created a seafood guide for the entire country. The guide does not only make recommendations about which species are ethical choices, but also increases seafood supply transparency as well as renews opinions on less-favoured fish species. InSeason Fish also offers opportunities for face-to-face community building through ‘fishplorations’, which are guided tours of fish markets and landing sites and they can interact with fishermen.