The loss of biodiversity is one of the main threats to the stability of ecosystems on Earth, including marine ecosystems. The current rate of species extinction is the greatest in history. A distinct species of plant or animal becomes extinct every 20 minutes and 30% of the remaining creatures, including marine species, are endangered. Scientists claim that 90% of the world’s fisheries are either fully exploited, over exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion (FAO, SOFIA report 2014).
The growing demand for fish and seafood products and the consequent intensive catches lead to overfishing of stocks. Moreover, low consumer awareness generates the demand for endangered species. Due to the intensive fishing economy not only the exploited fish stocks are suffering, but also many other species inhabiting the marine habitats, which are connected with the fish by many complicated relations.
In order to prevent the loss of biodiversity of seas and oceans caused by the unsustainable fisheries management, it is necessary to increase public awareness of the impact of everyday consumer decisions. Therefore, WWF Poland implements the project “The Campaign for the Protection of biodiversity of seas and oceans”.
The project aims at increasing public awareness about the effects of daily consumer decisions on biodiversity of seas and oceans and at providing the members of the fish sector (fishermen, processors, retailers), as well as journalists, culinary bloggers and chefs, with the necessary knowledge on how to obtain fish products from sustainable fisheries.
Educational campaign targeting consumers will be carried out as part of the project. The main aim of the campaign will be to draw attention of consumers to the fact that the decisions they make at the store or in restaurants can have an impact on the state of ecosystems and on biodiversity. The campaign will be based on broadcasting of television spots, promotional events in public space and the promotion of WWF’s fish guide – „What fish for dinner?”.
WWF Poland will organize a series of 16 regional culinary workshops for culinary chefs, journalists, bloggers and local governments. The aim of the workshops is to increase the participants’ environmental awareness about the risks of overfishing. Their attention will be drawn to the importance of daily choices made by the gastronomic chains in regard to the state of the world fish stocks and biodiversity. Providing the above-mentioned groups with the expert knowledge is crucial in order to use their influential roles in promoting conscious consumer choices and the protection of biodiversity. As part of this activity a cook book will be published. It will be available as an e-book and in a printed book form.
A series of four free workshops for producers and retailers in the field of traceability in the supply chain will also be organized within the project. The workshops will help the participants to understand and implement the systems of tracking stocks and fish products throughout the supply chain and will provide the necessary knowledge for proper labeling of stocks and products at every stage of the chain. This knowledge will help to reduce the illegal and unreported fishing, which contributes to the extinction of many marine species.
Furthermore, a conference about environmental aspects of fishing activities will be organized. Fishermen will receive the necessary knowledge of the principles of responsible fishing. Transferring this knowledge into practice will help to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment and will help to protect the biodiversity of seas and oceans.
In the initial stage of the project a public awareness survey and market research will be carried out. The survey will be aimed at identifying current consumer knowledge about fish and protection of biodiversity. The market research will be conducted to determine which species of fish are available on the Polish market. Similar studies will be carried out at the end of the project, in order to monitor occurring changes.
The Campaign for the protection of biodiversity of seas and oceans benefits from a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants. The project is very complex and innovative. It will reach all interest groups and has the potential to change the situation on the market and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity of seas and oceans.