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Posted by portugalpress on July 10, 2018

For anyone who has just been buying lunch at the fish market, news that Portugal ran out of fish two months ago will make little sense. But this is exactly what the World Wildlife Fund has just announced:

“From Monday this week to the end of the year” Portugal and the rest of Europe “will be depending on imported fish”, says the organisation, quoting a study taken by the New Economics Foundation.

Says Expresso, the study has taken its data from the UN’s agriculture and fisheries board and seeks to sound the alert over “the dramatic state of our oceans”.

A third of the world’s fish and shellfish stocks are “over-exploited” and 41% of fish populations are under these constant attacks.

D-day in Portugal was May 5, says WWF, stressing the nation is Europe’s top fish consumer: each citizen eats an average of 55.3 kgs of fish per year. That’s more than Spain (where citizens consume an annual average of 46.2 kgs), Lithuania (44.7 kgs), France (34.4 kgs) and Sweden (33.2 kgs).

These five countries represent a third of Europe’s fish consumption, where the average comes down to 22.7 kgs per year.

Only Croatia, Holland and Ireland are autonomous, says the report, in that they produce as much as they consume.

Austria, Belgium and Italy, for example, “stopped being autonomous right at the start of the year”.

Says WWF’s Portugal director Ângela Morgado, every country has to act on this information.

“We have to change global policies so that supply and demand become more sustainable. If not we will quite literally run out of fish, and leave millions of people without employment”.

Morgado told Expresso that worldwide at least 800 million people depend on fish - either for food, income or employment - whether it is fish from the sea, or from aquaculture.

She stressed: there is simply “not enough fish for so many mouths”.

Demand has exceeded population-growth by two (up 3.2% when demographics are up 1.6%) and “Europe consumes more fish than it can capture in European waters or produce in aquaculture”.

Every year, “more than half the fish consumed in Europe” comes from the waters of developing countries”, while Portugal stopped being self-sufficient “in less than five months”.

The writing is on the wall (or in the water…) It is now just a matter of what European countries do with it.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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