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Eat less fish, urges WWF

European extinction warning

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The WWF has warned European consumers that continuing to tuck into fish captured by "illegal, destructive or wasteful" methods will drive stocks to the brink of extinction.

A WWF report - entitled Fish Dish – exposing the unacceptable face of seafood - examines six popular European dishes, including cod and chips and plaice fillet, highlighting the "major problems" behind them.

In the case of plaice, the report estimates "around half of all plaice caught are discarded overboard, usually dead".

Cod stocks, meanwhile, have been decimated. Overfishing means that "over the past 30 years global cod catches have decreased by over 70 per cent, with catches by the current EU countries now just 10 per cent of the 1970 level". Commercial extinction looms for many cod species, and the WWF warns: "Atlantic cod could be a dish of the past in less than 15 years".

Justin Woolford, manager of WWF's European Fisheries Campaign, said: "Not everything caught in a net makes it to the dinner table. The trail of destruction behind industrialised fishing must be stopped or our children will be left with a barren ocean."

Britons consume one third of the world's cod catch, the WWF estimates, mostly in the form of fish and chips. Accordingly, the WWF is asking consumers to consider alternatives such as pollock, hake, hoki, Pacific cod, sablefish, and mackerel icefish - preferably with a "Marine Stewardship" label.

The WWF explains: "Products with this label have been independently assessed as meeting the rigorous MSC standard - the only internationally recognised set of environmental principles to assess whether a fishery is well managed and sustainable." ®

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