EU fishing industry advocacy group Europêche is bashing the World Wildlife Federation (WWF)’s interpretation of new data on the world’s marine populations, saying the WWF is trying to “distort” the data to present an artificially negative picture.
The report, released last week, includes data produced by the Zoological Society of London. The WWF, in a statement, said at the time that the report showed tuna and mackerel stocks in such bad shape that Louise Heaps, chief advisor on marine policy at WWF UK, called the situation “catastrophic.”
But Europêche is interpreting the data differently. In a statement today, the group argued the data show marine populations “have remained almost unchanged for almost 30 years.”
"Being selective with the facts to constantly portray fishing in the most negative light, real progress is not being made,” said Europêche President Javier Garat. “Misleading reports such as these only serve to push the sector into further disrepute at a time when our fishermen are making huge progress towards achieving sustainable fisheries."
The group also noticed a graph in the report prepared by WWF which shows the starkest decline in populations was from 1970 to 1988, after which the populations “remained stable.”
Kathryn Stack, Europêche’s managing director, said FAO data clearly shows more than 70 percent of the world’s fish stocks are at or below Maximum Sustainable Yield levels, rather than being in a “catastrophic state.”
“It is unacceptable that an organization such as WWF can be allowed to distort information which has a huge impact on the fishing sector's reputation,” Stack wrote.