On August 12 the Dutch Elasmobranch Society (NEV) adopted a leg of the Boskalis Beach Cleanup Tour, a two-week event in which volunteers clean the entire Dutch coastline while raising awareness about the effects of (plastic) pollution on ocean health. The NEV adopted a 7 km stretch of beach between the towns of Egmond and Castricum aan Zee. They dubbed the day ‘Like a Fish in Water’ in recognition of another problem the North Sea faces: unsustainable fisheries. Even though European leaders agreed that all fisheries should have been sustainable by 2015 (and no later than 2020), 40% of North Sea fish stocks are still being overfished1. Healthy fish stocks play a key role in keeping marine ecosystems balanced and represent an investment in the future because they can help the ocean resist human-induced stresses, such as pollution and environmental changes. It is therefore of the utmost importance to ensure that all fisheries are managed sustainably. Fisheries managers have the power to choose sustainable fishing limits, based on the best available science. Ending all overfishing in the North Sea would help ensure the future of fisheries, help restore the health of our marine environment, and make the North Sea more resilient.
Dutch Elasmobranch Society director Irene Kingma gave an opening talk highlighting the importance of healthy oceans and the role of fisheries and overfishing. Over 150 volunteers then took to the beach to clean as much trash as possible from the beach.
For the occasion, the group of beach cleaners was accompanied by a real VIP: Chancellor Mackerel; the fish ambassador who posted Twitter updates throughout the day and will continue to do so in the run up to the EU AgriFish council meetings this autumn where fishing limits will be agreed for 2019.
Participants wanting to show their support for ending overfishing got to do so by posing with the dedicated Like A Fish in Water #DeepSea2019 photo frames. We asked for a special focus on deep-sea species because this November catch limits will be set for deep-sea fisheries for the coming two years. This means it is the last chance for EU policy makers to set sustainable limits for these highly vulnerable species before the 2020 deadline.
There to showcase the beauty of marine life in the North Sea and the importance of sustainable fisheries was fisherman and nature educator Gjalt Sparrius from Naturally Nature (de Natuur Natuurlijk). Sparrius uses as a small hand operated trawl system to demonstrate the abundance of life you find in the sea just meters from the shoreline. They found juvenile herring and horse mackerel, shrimp, flatfish, jellyfish, and even a small venomous weever fish. His enthusiastic approach, tales from experiences, and impressive collection of fossils and findings from his excursions concluded the day on a positive note. In total, the group of 150 people cleaned 420 kilos of trash from the beach that day, including more than one kilo of balloons, the special focus of this year’s cleanup.
1 Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) – Monitoring the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (STECF-Adhoc-18-01). Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018
Photos by Veerle Sloof/ Veer en Vorm