Target: International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
Goal: Commend group of scientists for pressing a reduction in the number of European Sea Bass fished yearly
The stock of wild European sea bass, sometimes called branzino or loup de mer, has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years. A once abundant species, sea bass numbers have declined by 32% since 2009. At this rate of decimation, their continued existence becomes shaky, placing the fish on the list of species endangered by over fishing. Meeting recently at a conference organized by the Blue Marine Foundation, scientists from the ICES urged European nations to set restrictions on the number of sea bass caught annually. Focusing principally on the areas of most damage – the waters surrounding the British Isles, including the English Channel and North, Celtic, and Irish Seas – ICES recommends cutting catches by 36% for sea bass stocks to recover. Commend the ICES for fighting to protect the sustainability of European sea bass populations.
Ironically, it is in part due to consumers’ efforts to eat a more sustainable, eco-conscious diet that the European sea bass is at risk. As other species’ populations dwindled, Europeans, including people in southern countries like Spain, Greece and Turkey, began consuming more sea bass. Cod, haddock, swordfish, anchovy were all once abundant, and are all currently in need of fishing restrictions and yearly quotas if their stocks are to return to previous numbers. Now the sea bass must be added to the list of threatened fish species.
Farm raising sea bass won’t solve the problem. The majority of all sea bass consumed are farm raised as it is. And while farm-raising may help one species of wild fish recover its numbers, it can sometimes devastate others. The practice is controversial because of the cramped spaces allotted fish, reliance on drugs and chemicals, as well as the diet provided by farmers. Fish meal is often made from sickly fish in polluted waters and some farmers have even taken to feeding fish an inadequate diet of GMO corn and soy, which greatly degrades their health, meat quality and fat content. The waters in which they’re raised are sometimes mildly toxic as well.
The only real solution to protecting the world’s fish populations is to place quotas on the number of fish caught every year and to enforce off-seasons when fish are spawning. We have little choice but to accept that fish is a limited resource, and that we must savor it on occasion rather than expect it day to day, as well as accept higher prices for one of our most valuable food sources.
Now that the ICES has called attention to the growing danger of over-fishing sea bass, the EU and member countries are likely to increase monitoring and regulation. Thank the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea for calling to protect the European sea bass.
Dear International Council for the Exploration of the Sea,
I am writing to thank you for calling attention to the dwindling population of European sea bass. Fish, the sea bass included, provide some of the world’s most valued food and it is up to human efforts to ensure that our planet’s many species continue to thrive. While a species containing millions upon millions of individual fish may seem invulnerable, it’s clear that human demand can devastate a population with extreme rapidity. When the first danger of decline is detected, it is important that we act as soon as possible.
Having fallen in numbers by 32% since 2009, the European sea bass is now one such fish that needs protection. The EU and surrounding countries must set new restrictions on fishing and enact an annual quota. To allow fish adequate time for spawning, a ban on catching sea bass during designated off seasons should also be enforced. Only then can the oceans’ stock of sea bass recover.
Scientists are the first defense of our oceans’ fish. Luckily, consumers and nations have proved concerned and attentive. Thank you for urging European countries to cut the number of sea bass caught annually by 36%. Your Council’s research and recommendation will prove invaluable in protecting the European sea bass.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Valter Jacinto via Flickr