The NFFO has slammed the Blue Marine Foundation calling it wealthy, well-connected and wrong when it comes to facts about sustainable fishing

The NFFO has slammed the Blue Marine Foundation calling it wealthy, well-connected and wrong when it comes to facts about sustainable fishing

The National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO) in the UK has slammed the Blue Marine Foundation calling it wealthy, well-connected and wrong when it comes to facts about sustainable fishing.

The Blue Marine Foundation, co-founder and executive director, Charles Clover, has been accused of making false allegations against the fishing industry, which is self-serving and making a very attractive narrative to uninformed wealthy patrons of the “Foundation”.

In his latest publicity stunt, Clover has been calling for the ban overfishing of British cod, despite not explaining to the public that science from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) shows a recovery in the stock and that there are fishery management plans in place that imposes restrictions on where the cod can be caught as a targeted species.

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Despite this, the Blue Marine Foundation, through Charles Clover has claimed that quotas for the stocks have been set at “unsustainable levels” and has been actively engaging politicians with his “facts” on fisheries management. At a recent parliamentary reception, Clover brought those attending a copy of his book ‘Rewilding the Sea’ selling his concept of saving the world’s oceans. In a spin to government ministers he said, “These are some easy wins, and God knows this government needs some easy wins”. This was an effort to influence the Government against the fishing industry during fisheries negotiations with the EU and Norway.

The NFFO hit out at the Blue Marine saying:

“Over the course of this year’s negotiations there has been a persistent drumbeat from Blue Marine about the failures of fisheries mismanagement in general and cod in particular, It is a very selective and often plain wrong narrative that in many ways is self-serving. Without a catastrophe to report on, what is the point of Blue Marine?”

At COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, the Blue Marine Foundation managed to secure a multi-million-dollar funding advancement from Convex Group Ltd, to allow its “researchers” to spend five years building an open-access database showing how much carbon the world’s seabed can store. Convex Insurance, a subsidiary of Convex Group Ltd, had just announced that it would no longer be issuing insurance policies to companies involved in new projects for extraction of fossil fuels, a major contributor to the world’s carbon pollution.

To attract such lucrative funding deals, it is important for eNGO’s like Blue Marine to keep a high-profile in the public eye. Such techniques as appearing on TV claiming there is a conspiracy between the UK, the EU and Norway to destroy fish stocks does not wash with the NFFO who say:

“In fact, it is not true to claim, as Charles Clover did recently on the BBC, that the UK/Norway and the EU have set quotas at unsustainable levels, and that quotas are never set below scientific advice. In the case of North Sea haddock, a scientific recommendation to increase the quota by 160% was limited to a 30% increase to protect cod stocks because there is a recognised species interaction. For North Sea whiting, an even more precautionary approach was followed. The scientific advice for a 240% increase was also limited to only 30%.  Similar precautionary restraint was in evidence on some Celtic Sea stocks, although most were set exactly in line with the ICES headline advice.

“This year’s negotiations were notable for the number of stocks pointed in an upwards direction. This can’t always be the case because there is natural variation in the young coming into the fishery each year and that is governed largely by environmental factors.

“So, it is just untrue to say that quotas are increased when the stocks go up but not when they go down. But the big picture is of stocks steadily moving in the right direction, always accepting that there will be some statistical outliers.”

The NFFO says that Charles Clover needs to get his facts straight about how the cod fishery is being managed. They say:

“It is true to say that the other cod stocks in UK water are at a low ebb but two points, ignored by Blue Marine are salient. There are no directed (targeted) fisheries on these stocks, and so fishing pressure on them is very low. Quotas are set at the lowest possible level consistent with unavoidable bycatch in other important fisheries.

“The second point is that the science suggests that there is a distributional shift under way, probably related to changing water temperatures. Cod in the North Sea is moving northwards by 12 km per year. What is the appropriate management response as cod moves out of southern waters and become abundant in northern waters? That is a genuine debate that the fishing industry, fisheries scientists and fisheries managers need to have in the New Year.”

Fishing in the North Sea is not facing the doomsday scenario painted by the eNGO says the NFFO:

“Without a catastrophe narrative, NGOs like Blue Marine would find it more difficult to obtain funding. They are wealthy and well-connected and wrong.

“Since we right-sized our fleets around the turn of the century through decommissioning, fish stocks across the North-East Atlantic have not just recovered from the mismanagement of the 1980s and 1990s but in some stocks – like North Sea haddock and plaice and western hake, the biomass in higher than ever seen in the historic record.

“That is not a story of mismanaged decline, but it is an inconvenient truth for the Johnny-come-latelys who pine for the bad old days when their existence might have been justified.”

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Blue Marine Foundation: Wealthy, Well-Connected and Wrong says NFFO

by editor time to read: 8 min