Dumped at sea, lost on land or left to rot in shops and fridges, the global catch of fish is being wasted like never before – hurting not only the oceans but the nutrition of billions of people. Can it be reversed?
In February 2022, a Dutch-owned fishing trawler released a silvery stream of 100,000 dead fish, which carpeted several thousand square metres of ocean off the coast of France. The vessel’s owners blamed the discharge on a faulty net. Environmental groups alleged that the fish were intentionally dumped.
Whatever the truth, that spectacle of squandered sea life was the tip of the iceberg: figures from WWF show that in 2019, at least 230,000 tonnes of fish were dumped in EU waters. Most of the waste – 92% – is related to bottom-trawling, a fishing method that scrapes the seafloor, indiscriminately scooping up everything in its path.