I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that fish and chips, our well-loved and former national dish (now displaced by chicken tikka masala) may eventually become a novelty due to rapidly depleting fish stocks.

So it was good to read about one small solution to over-fishing in Annalisa Barbieri’s piece in today’s Guardian. The solution involves, yes, wait for it, listening to fishermen.

While Annalisa decries the woeful inadequacies of the common fisheries policy and berates the EU for failing to do anything to change things, she praises the efforts of one local fishery in Devon that has succeeded in reducing the amount of discarded fish by 50%.

The fishery did this by talking to fishermen and actually involving them in the design of new nets. It did this through Project 50%, Defra-funded project which also used social marketing to get the word out. As one fisherman is quoted as saying:

“It was the first time that I’ve known a government organisation to work with the local fishermen and ask us how we could help.”

It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how little of this listening we see – not just in government, but in our institutions generally.

Photo: EEPaul