You most likely know this already, but Hugh’s Fish Fight is back. The media storm surrounding the TV chef’s sustainable fishing campaigns has steadily been growing, and on Monday 25th February, fish-loving members of the public gathered en masse in front of the Houses of Parliament in London to show that we are concerned about the future of our seas.
If you recall, first time around Hugh and co. were battling for a halt to be put to the terrifying quantity of fresh fish being discarded on fishing vessels all over the world, due to their unmarketability. A recent breakthrough, which the Fish Fight undoubtedly contributed to, has meant that MEPs have banned the discarding of edible fish for stocks including herring and whiting from January of next year, with a ban for white fish stocks also agreed to begin in January 2016 (Guardian.co.uk, 2013).
This time round, the fish fighters are focusing on the creation of Marine Conservation Zones. A recent study which cost £8 million (of taxpayer cash, we might add!) stated that a network of MCZs around the UK was needed to help ensure the survival of our fish stocks for future generations. The network proposed included 127 MCZs. The government have stated they will consider 31- and fish fighters are not satisfied with this.
So Hugh led the march to Whitehall, Westminster on Monday 25th February, and I went along to rally with other passionate conservation people and show that we really do want the government to take the issue seriously and pledge to support the creation of these MCZs.
Even though it was a drizzly day in London, the air was electric and the turnout was fabulous. There was a carnival-esque atmosphere, with lots of people dressed up in funny costumes, waving banners, flags and cardboard fish they had brought. There were giant lobsters, Neptune, jelly fish, mermaids, sharks, manta rays and more, parading along waving their banners, and others proudly displaying their ‘127’ and ‘Fish Fight’ t-shirts. The turnout was really impressive! Organisations I saw included SeaLife, Marine Stewardship Council, Greenpeace, and angling groups amongst others. We trailed as a big group across from the London Eye over to Whitehall, and whilst passing over the bridge we could see more of us in boats on the Thames.
The community gathered in front of the Houses of Parliament where Hugh took to the stage and spoke about the cause, greeted by roars and cheers from the marchers. There were an estimated 2000 of us there on the day!
There are 31 days left to tell the government that we want more conservation zones. If this is a cause that you believe in, please sign the petition over at http://www.fishfight.net/. At the moment, over 11,000 signatures have been gathered. The most that DEFRA have seen for any one cause is 17,000- let’s get that number over and above the benchmark. If enough people sign, the government will have no choice but to listen to we who care about our seas!
To see the footage from Monday’s march and follow up on Hugh’s progress, tune in to Hugh’s Fish Fight on Channel 4 tonight at 9.00pm GMT.
For a blow-by-blow account of the march, see the Fish Fight’s Storify article at http://www.fishfight.net/fish-fight-live/.
For more information about sustainable fish consumption, visit fish2fork.com.
Guardian.co.uk, 2013. ‘EU fish discards deal welcomed by UK’. [Online] Accessible at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/27/eu-fish-discards-ban-welcomed.