Marine Conservation Society
Skomer Marine Nature Reserve

Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs makes “inaccurate and misleading claims” about the sustainability of Welsh seafood.

Not-for-profit profit environmental law organisation Client Earth reports:

“At the launch of the Wales Seafood Strategy in Cardiff, the National Procurement Service pledged to serve only ‘verifiably sustainable fish’ across the public sector – a commitment we at ClientEarth fully encourage. However, during Seafood Week (October 2016}, Lesley Griffiths, the Cabinet Secretary, claimed that: ‘With more than 75% of our coastline in Marine Conservation Area [sic] our seafood is, by its very nature, sustainably sourced. It is excellent news that the National Procurement Service has signed the pledge to ensure all fish used in the Public Sector in Wales is sustainably sourced.’”

Client Earth goes on to say “Yet this claim is inaccurate …. Claiming that Welsh seafood is sustainably sourced because 75% of Welsh coastlines are protected is misleading. Marine protection and seafood sustainability can go hand in hand, but one does not necessarily result in the other.”

Read more here.

Client Earth is spot on; but there’s more.

The claim that 75% of the coastline is “protected” is also equally inaccurate and misleading.  

Although about 75% of coastline length is within a designated marine protected area (MPA), the area of Welsh territorial sea within MPAs is roughly 35%.  Selective use of the 75% figure is misleading as it is implies that Wales has more than double the area in an MPA than it does in reality.

To make matters worse, even referring to these areas as MPAs is also misleading. It implies that areas legally designated as MPA are properly protected. Sadly they are not.  A comprehensive assessment of MPA management was undertaken in 2011-12 by the Countryside Council for Wales (now dissolved and functions transferred to Natural Resources Wales) which came to the conclusion that “Overall the evaluation identified that MPAs in Wales are failing to achieve favourable condition/status due to a lack of effective management”.  In other words, they are not adequately “protected”.

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