Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, has announced it will no longer transport unsustainably harvested fish. Good on them. It’s not often you see a major corporate using its market power for good, putting the long-term future ahead of short-term profits.
For New Zealand, this means Maersk will no longer transport our orange roughy, not that many people want to buy it any more with supermarkets in Canada, the US, and the UK banning it.
In just 30 years, we have reduced the population of orange roughy by up to 90%. The quotas are still too high to high to stop population decline and the fishers exceed them year after year. That’s theft from our future but for some reason I can’t work out, they are allowed to remain in business and they don’t go to jail. A kid steals a car and he goes to jail, a fishing company breaks the law and brings a valuable natural resource to the brink of extinction and they’re heroes.
Orange roughy are extremely long-lived (up to 150 years) and slow breeding – the damage we’ve caused cannot be quickly undone. And the fish are caught by destructive bottom-trawling which is doing untold damage to the rest of the deepsea ecology.
Successive governments have done too little to bring the industry into line. Hopefully, Maersk’s leadership will be the wake up call that’s needed.