Boycott of catch from damaging fisheries sought

Conservation groups, California foundation prepare for campaign

Posted: Thursday, May 06, 2004

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Conservation groups bankrolled by a Northern California foundation are preparing a global boycott of seafood from fisheries they consider environmentally damaging.

The groups also plan to try to build consumer support for sustainable fisheries, said Michael Sutton, a lawyer and program officer for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Los Altos, Calif.

"It's very simple - a green list and a red list," Sutton said Tuesday in an interview during the World Fisheries Congress.

Political lobbying has been largely ineffective because consumers are not aware of the threats to marine stocks around the world, Sutton said.

"We don't have the political will to stop overfishing, to stop destructive fishing practices.

"The public believes oil spills are the biggest threat to the oceans. We know that's not true. It's not the acute things, it's the chronic day-to-day overfishing and so forth," he said.

The foundation has financed production of millions of copies of a wallet-sized fish list that includes a red list of recommended species to avoid and a green list of those to enjoy for distribution in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

The green list includes farmed catfish, caviar, clams, mussels, oysters, and sturgeon. The red list includes farmed salmon; Atlantic cod, halibut and salmon; wild caviar; Chilean sea bass; grouper; Atlantic halibut; shark; snapper; wild sturgeon and bluefin tuna.

Some environmentally responsible operators could get unfairly hit by an overall fishery boycott, so other local environmental groups are producing their own cards to give consumers more detailed regional information, Sutton said.

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