Are the French too greedy for fish? Anyway, as of May 2, 2022, everything is happening as if we are only buying products from abroad, having exhausted all our production through fishing and farming (aquaculture).
“Fish Import Dependence Day makes it possible to visualize the relationship between French fishing, aquaculture and our consumption. We found that French production is equivalent to 33.4% of our consumption (live weight equivalent). So we will theoretically need to import when this 33.4% is consumed, that is, on May 2‘, explains to GEO.fr Margaux Janin, Director of Communications at a non-profit NGO Aquaculture Supervisory Board (ASC), at the origin of this issue.
A symbolic date – because it is based on a theoretical account, but it raises a very real problem, like “overshoot day”. Announced annually by an American NGO global footprint network, It corresponds to the moment when all of humanity has exhausted the productive resources on our planet since January 1.
Annually 33.5 kg of fish are consumed per inhabitant of France
By focusing specifically on nutrients from the seas and oceans (fish, as well as aquatic crustaceans, mollusks, algae, etc.), the ASC highlights a paradoxical case. The second largest marine area in the world, with more than 10.2 million square kilometers spread over all oceans (ViePublique.fr), however France accounts for 5% of the world’s imports of aquatic products. This makes it the fifth largest importer linked to three other countries, according to a report by the United Nations Food Organization (FAO).
With a consumption of about 33.5 kg of fish and aquatic products per year and per capita (FranceAgriMer, 2020), the French exceed the estimated global average of 20.5 kg. “Salmon, tuna and shrimp are the favorite species of the French and we import them in large quantities, respectively 182,000, 140,000 and 114,000 tons.“,” to GEO.fr Margaux Janin.
However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, more than a third of “fish stocks” (the exploitable part of the fish population in a given area) are overfished or are generally overexploited, that is, they are subject to fishing intensity that exceeds their ability to renew themselves.
Guides and tips for choosing the right fish
How do you choose the right fish? “Preferring farmed fish over wild counterparts is not always a solution, as the latter is necessary to feed the former‘, warns the Foundation for Research in Biodiversity (FRB). For example, it takes 1 kg of ‘forage fish’ (anchovies, herring, sardines, etc.) to produce 1 kg of Norwegian salmon. However, these prey Small petrels, in their natural environment, which is essential for the survival of animals such as the Humboldt penguin, giant petrel or humpback whale.
Salmon farms are also criticized for their use of antibiotics, as well as for the high density of animals within ponds, which promotes the spread of viruses among salmon, but also the stress and suffering of these sensitive organisms.
However, the ASC has prepared an aquaculture certification program on the basis of dozens of specifications (one for each group of species) each containing more than a hundred standards, both in social aspects (prohibition of forced labor, decent wages, respect for local communities, etc. . . ) and environmental issues, including respect for the seabed and water quality, monitoring of antibiotics and drug treatments, as well as improving the environmental impact of food provided to fish.
“ASC-branded fish, shellfish or crustaceans come from farms that have been proven to meet all of the standards of this specification, and are verified by an independent auditor.‘The organization’s communications director confirms.’The switch to labels sends an important signal to brands and distributors, thus encouraging farms to improve their practices to comply with these certifications. It’s a virtuous circle we all have a role to play. “
On the fishing side, the impact on the ecosystem depends not only on the state of the wild fish stocks in their original geographical area, but on the method used – trawling, for example, being more destructive to the seabed and less selective than angling – but also, such as fruit And vegetables, is the season. Because marine species each have a breeding period, and it is best not to fish during it.
With so many criteria to consider, it can be hard to find your way around the shelves or between market stalls! Fortunately, there are guides and applications for choosing products from the sea with complete knowledge of the facts. In particular, the Ethic-Ocean website publishes a regularly updated “species guide” on which the free and collaborative application “Etiquetable” is based, offering tips, information and recipes.
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