From: WWF
Published January 17, 2008 09:27 AM

The stinky fish of poor fishing practice

Destructive fishing has many critics, with the newest being an animated fish puppet emerging from an icebox to push the virtues of sustainably caught seafood.

Stinky Fish, the brainchild of WWF’s International Marine Programme and viral movie makers, Free Range Studios, is the star of a new consumer education and information website which goes live today.

Stinky, performing as the star of his own video on the site, on Facebook or You Tube, emerges unexpectedly from his icebox to voxpop shop-owners and restauranteurs on where their fish came from and tell diners and shoppers to avoid “stinky fish”.

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Stinky fish, explains Stinky Fish, are those caught from over-exploited fish populations or caught with the use of destructive fishing methods and technologies. “You've seen pictures of the living wonders of the deep; you'd be appalled to see a trawler dragging a net the size of a football field right through it,” says Stinky.

“We’ve aimed Stinky Fish mainly at fish buyers and eaters with the underlying message that your seafood spread is going to be all the more satisfying if you buy and eat with a conscience” said Sarah Bladen of WWF’s International Marine Programme. Or, in the cartoon chatter that Stinky Fish uses: “It's time to slap your appetites into line with your ethics.”

But there is more than admonishment. Stinky Fish has a six step plan for fish consumers to do just that. Stinky Fish reserves his approval for fish products carrying the ecolabel of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the plan revolves around preferring MSC -labelled seafood, asking retailers and restaurateurs for sustainable fish and generally adding in small personal ways to the overall consumer demand for seafood that doesn’t cost the seas.

Consumers are advised to just stay away from some seafood where the populations are so depleted, the fishing methods so destructive or the task of differentiating the sustainable from the unsustainable is impossible. The list includes the once but no longer plentiful Atlantic cod, overfished Atlantic bluefin tuna, swordfish from areas still using banned driftnets, and orange roughy driven into depletion almost as soon as it was discovered just a couple of decades ago.

Stinky’s Sustainable Seafood Shopping Survey provides a mechanism for aware consumers to start reinforcing the message for seafood providers. Returning the survey to Stinky Fish and his willing WWF analysts will also add to knowledge of consumer level retailing practice.

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