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12 April 2011

* New poll supports WWF’s call for progressive reform of Europe-wide fisheries policy

* Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall ‘thrilled’ public backs Common Fisheries Policy reform

The UK Government should feel confident that they have overwhelming public support for taking action to help fish stocks to recover, said WWF today (Tues 12 April), following the publication of a new opinion poll.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the environmental charity, found that almost four out of five people (79%) in the UK want the fish that is on sale come from sustainable, not overfished, sources, but that less than one quarter (21%) think there is adequate information on whether fish products come from well managed sustainable stocks.

Importantly, the poll also found support from two-thirds (66%) of people for reform of the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in order to ensure the recovery of fish stocks and also allow future generations to make a living from the sea.

The UK figures are part of a Europe-wide survey which shows similar levels of support for reform from other member countries. [1]

David Norman, Director of Campaigns at WWF-UK said:

“It is now clear that the overwhelming majority of the public want the fish they buy to come from sustainable sources. This can only be achieved by reforming the outdated rules which dictate how much fish is taken from our seas - the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). In its current form this has taken short term decisions that have failed to protect threatened fish stocks and those communities that depend upon them.

“In order to deliver healthy fish stocks we need to see a number of measures including the introduction of long-term management plans, greater local participation in the CFP process and urgent reduction of by-catch and wasteful discards. This is a rare chance to fix the existing system. It is therefore vital the UK Government push for progressive and ambitious reform of the CFP in line with the wishes of the vast majority of the UK public.

“We know many retailers are taking steps to increase their use of sustainable fish and are promoting this through the labelling their products, including the use of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo. However, if our campaign is successful in securing the right reforms then in the future all fish caught will be from sustainable sources.”

Campaigner and Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said

“I applaud the survey work done by WWF which shows that the vast majority of people want to know that the fish they buy comes from sustainable sources. I am also thrilled to hear that two thirds of people support a strong reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. These issues are too important for the politicians to ignore, and it is beholden on them now to make the changes to this broken policy that the public clearly want.”


Notes to Editors

[1] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2536 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th - 19th January 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

The poll surveyed the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. 14,635 adults were surveyed in total. All figures, except for those from Greece are from YouGov Plc.

The three questions asked were:

1. To what extent would you support or oppose reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy in an attempt to ensure all European fish and fish products are from sustainable, non-overfished stocks?

UK response: 66% in favour of reform

2. How important, if at all, is it to you that fish and fish products that are on sale (such as fresh fish, frozen fish, and fish in ready meals) within the European Union come from sustainable and non-overfished stocks?

UK response: 79% said it was important that the fish they buy comes from sustainable sources.

3. Do you feel that you have adequate information about where the fish and fish products that are on sale (such as fresh fish, frozen fish, and fish in ready meals) come from (i.e. if it is from a well-managed, sustainable source)?

UK response: Only 21% feel there is adequate information about where the fish products they buy come from.

The polling results are available here: http://www.divshare.com/download/14549058-a99

[2] WWF is calling for a meaningful reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy including:

 Sustainable management – every commercial fishery must be managed under a long-term management plan designed to ensure the sustainable management, recovery and rebuilding of fish stocks and marine ecosystems.
 Effective regionalisation – fisheries must be managed regionally, linking fishing rights and responsibilities to improving ecosystem health and enhancing the economic resilience of the fishing fleets in order to achieve environmental and economic sustainability.
 Fair fishing abroad – the principles of the policy must apply to all European fisheries and fishing boats wherever they operate in the world’s oceans.
 Improved quality – an integrated and coherent set of policies across the supply chain, so that fishermen catch what’s needed when it’s needed, avoiding waste and adding value at all stages along the way, from net to plate.

For further information about WWF’s campaign please visit: http://www.wwf.org.uk/morefish

[3] For further information on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign


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