National media blamed for damage to industry
THE chief executive of Seafish has visited the Humber region to launch a staunch defence of the fishing industry.
Dr Paul Williams asked for a fair deal from the influential national media when he spoke at the Humber Seafood Summit this week.
His comments follow what he described as "a near-constant assault of negativity" generated from reports produced by academic and environmental groups on a sector that is vital to the Humber. Dr Williams said it was high time the impact of other protein sources was checked before hard-hitting headlines were written.
He said: "If we accept there is an environmental impact and some species are over-fished, does this take us to the solution we should stop eating seafood? Statistics show fishing is a way of getting protein that impacts least on the environment.
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Underlining how emerging nations are getting an increased appetite for fish as class structures emulate the developed world, he said: "We cannot ignore the problems.
"Everyone recognises that better management of fisheries could lead to increases in stocks and increases of availability for food production and better fish/food security.
"However, some of the issues put at the industry's doorstep are much, much bigger than our industry, and some of these issues are not dealt with by headlines that say '100 adult cod left in the sea'."
His passionate plea at the Humber Seafood Institute came on the back of what delegates dismissed as a "wildly exaggerated" national article in the lead-up to the event.
"The headlines, the inference of what they project, is that there are shortages of fish, environmental impacts with fishing and big issues with farming in the seafood industry. The overall inference is 'stop fishing'.
"Compare that to agricultural protein production and the perception is very, very clearly about food production. Seafood is sustainability and agriculture is about feeding people.
"We've got to have the recognition that fish is food. It is part of the global food supply.
"Any food solution has an environmental impact."