There are always fewer fish in the sea


The problem of overfishing is particularly severe in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Will new European regulations be able to reverse the trend?
On paper, fish is perhaps the best source of protein for human diets: it has less fat than meat, and is also more sustainable provided that we fish responsibly. In fact, fish reproduce much faster than species which live on land: even a species threatened by extinction can recover in a few years, if left alone by fishermen. But in many areas of the world, this has not happened for some time. Overfishing occurs when a species is fished at a faster rate than its reproduction cycle, with the result that individual numbers fall over time. According to the FAO, two thirds of species of fish we eat are in this situation (the FAO describes the situation in this document)
The European seas (the Mediterranean as much as the North Atlantic) are in a particularly critical situation. For some years, the European Union has been in long and complex negotiations to designate a new common fisheries policy, which was finally achieved between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. The main objective was to impose maximum quotas for the most threatened species, in order to give them time to repopulate. The same process has been successful in the last decade in the United States, thanks to collaboration between scientists and fishermen.
Fish Dependence Day is a mental exercise proposed each year by the New Economics Foundation: the idea is to make you think for a moment that a country has available to it only the fish caught in its own waters, and from 1 January begins to consume it at the typical rate until it’s exhausted. For Europe as a whole, the date in 2014 would be 11 July , but for Italy, it’s much sooner: 13 April. If we did not import fish, we could not eat very well. For a country surrounded by water, this is hard to believe. It is the subject of great discussion in the Bio-Mediterranean cluster of Expo2015.