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Executive Summary for July 13th

In our weekly news roundup, we report on the United Nations’ recent biennial assessment of global fish stocks, Starbucks’ announcement that it’s getting rid of plastic straws and a decision by major krill fishing companies to avoid a sensitive region in Antarctica.

Published on July 13, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

FAO: Growing Numbers of Overfished Stocks Are Worrying

Released once every two years, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s latest State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report showed that wild fish stock numbers are going in the wrong direction.

The FAO report warned that unsustainable fisheries in developing countries are offsetting gains in sustainable management in developed countries. The report showed that one third of all major commercial fish species are still being fished at “biologically unsustainable levels” – a situation called “worrying” in the report. In statements, environmental groups WWF and Oceana noted that this is an increase from four years ago. The report also found that about 35 percent of all global fish catches are wasted, either discarded back to sea or lost or spoiled in the supply chain.

Overall, global fish catch continued to decline, although the world is still eating more seafood. Aquaculture production makes up for the difference, although growth has slowed from previous years. The regions with the highest proportions of unsustainable fish stocks were the Mediterranean and Black seas, the southeast Pacific Ocean and the southwest Atlantic Ocean.

Straws, Straws, Straws

There’s been a wave of consumer brands reducing or eliminating their use of plastic straws, and Starbucks joined the pack in a big way this week with its announcement that it will eliminate straws from its 28,000 stores by 2020.

Instead, it plans to phase in what many have dubbed a “sippy cup” plastic lid. The company estimates it will be able to use 1 billion fewer straws a year. Joining Starbucks this week was American Airlines and Bacardi, brands that both said they plan to take initial steps to taking straws out of airport lounges and events. These companies join other brands and the city of Seattle in a movement that has gained steam quickly in the last year.

This momentum, especially the recent Starbucks announcement, has touched off a debate on how effective plastic straw bans will be at addressing the underlying problem of the wave of plastic flowing into the ocean – most of which comes from developing nations. Disability advocates, too, criticized outright straw bans for not considering their needs.

Krill Companies Will Stop Fishing Antarctica Peninsula

The largest krill fishing companies have voluntarily agreed to stop their fishing activities near ecologically sensitive areas of the Antarctic Peninsula, according to Greenpeace.

Krill are crucial to the marine food chain, supporting seals, seabirds, penguins and whales in the polar regions. Five companies, together representing 85 percent of the industry, will halt fishing in these areas by 2020, they said, leaving buffer zones around breeding colonies of penguins. They will also support an ongoing process to create a network of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean. In October, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will meet to decide on several proposals for additional marine protection, building on a decision to create the world’s largest protected area in the Ross Sea in 2016.

“This is a historic agreement in that companies in China, Chile, Korea and Norway are able to agree and make the first move,” Kristine Hartmann, executive vice president of transformation at Norwegian company Aker Biomarine, told CNN.

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