‘Sustainable’ seafood

Sir, – The article by Alex McMaster ("The science of buying sustainable fish", March 24th) pondered the dilemma facing consumers at the fish counter and the difficulty (near-impossibility in fact) of knowing whether their menu choice is "sustainable". It concluded that what consumers need is "appropriate access to key facts". However, some of the key facts of the fishing industry were not mentioned, such as how all overfishing was to have ended by 2020 under a reformed Common Fisheries Policy. After a challenge in the High Court by Friends of the Irish Environment, the legality of continued overfishing is currently before the European Court of Justice. Another key fact is that, following an audit in 2018, the European Commission withdrew Ireland's fishing "control plan" due to doubts about the accuracy of weighing equipment. In other words, the EU does not trust Ireland to weigh the fish being landed. So even though scientific quotas for fish catches routinely exceed the scientific advice, we can have no confidence that even these quotas are being adhered to. On top of that there is no system for the conservation of marine life in Ireland, with barely 2.5 per cent of our seas nominally within Marine Protected Areas, while we know there are virtually no protection measures even in those areas that are designated. The ocean is in a dreadful state and so, from a consumer's perspective, there is currently no such thing as "sustainable seafood". A good start, however, would be for the State to comply with environmental law and to address its failure to properly manage the sea. – Yours, etc,


Irish Wildlife Trust,

Dublin 7.