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News|14 Sep, 2006

Finnish schoolchildren promote sustainable fishing

Finnish school children drawing
One of many drawings by Finnish school children depicting the status of the Baltic Sea. The drawings, together with a signed petition, will be sent to the Finnish Agriculture Minister, urging the goverment to protect the sea's fish species and marine environment.

Helsinki, Finland – Finnish schoolchildren from around the country took to the coast to highlight overfishing issues in the Baltic Sea.

The WWF-sponsored event brought together 650 children from 18 schools along the Finnish coastline to discuss the status of their country’s waters and to send a strong message to the Finnish government, which currently holds the European Union Presidency, to save declining fish populations.

In particular, the children signed a petition for better protection of Baltic Sea cod, which is being overfished. Damaging fishing practices, high levels of by-catch and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing have all led to habitat degradation.

The petition, together with stories, drawings and poems produced by the children, will be sent to Finland’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister, who is responsible for fisheries, in the lead-up to an EU fisheries meeting in October where Baltic Sea cod quotas will be addressed.

“It’s great to see children so eager to learn more about fish, their ecology and the Baltic Sea,” said Anita Mäkinen, head of WWF-Finland’s marine programme.

“We hope the event will send a clear message to the decision makers that children want, through their own actions, to take responsibility for the future of the Baltic Sea. These children are the decision-makers of tomorrow. They are demanding a better future for their oceans.”

Today, the Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most threatened marine ecosystems. According to WWF, 50 per cent of the commercial fish stocks, especially cod, are overexploited.

Overall, global cod catches have declined by 70 per cent over the last 30 years, from 3.1 million tonnes in 1970 to 950,000 tonnes in 2000. If this trend continues, the world’s cod stocks will disappear in 15 years.

WWF is working on recovery plans for key commercial fisheries, such as cod by encouraging governments, fisheries management bodies and fishermen to implement ecosystem-based management into fisheries management regimes. This includes following scientific advice for fish quotas, implementing fishing gear bans to help fish populations recover, reducing bycatch and discarding juvenile fish and overexploited species, and creating marine protected areas.

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For further information:

Tuuli Äikäs, Communications Officer
Tel: +358 9 7740 1051

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