The odds that American consumers will be able to go into a store and buy fish that’s safe and legally caught have begun to improve, perhaps dramatically, over the past week. At the same time, a new report from the World Wildlife Fund illustrates just how bad the situation has become: It estimates that 86 percent of global fisheries are now at high or moderate risk of pirate fishing.
The official term is IUU, for Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fisheries, and it means that those glistening imported fillets in your local market are highly likely to have been harvested in the wrong place or with the wrong methods. They may not even be the species advertised on the label. Or they could be contaminated with antibiotics, other drugs, or toxic chemicals used in some countries in farming or processing fish.
GR: Though stopping illegal fishing will guarantee safe seafood for some people for a while, the long-term outlook for most of the fish we eat is not good. We only protect a small portion of the world’s oceans, and massive fish harvests with huge bycatch are continuing nonstop. Already half our fish are gone, and projections are for increasing demand from our growing population.