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Empty waters

(article, Caroline Cummins)

The New York Times has gotten fishy lately, with a series of articles about "the relationship between Europe’s demand for fish and the world’s supply." 

First came an article about the sad effects of the loss of fish in African waters due to efficient industrial fishing by Europeans, Russians, and the Chinese, among others. 

The results? With their fish and livelihoods taken away, impoverished Africans are using their boats to head, yup, for Europe, in hopes of finding work there. It makes sense, in a way; if your resources are taken away, follow the takers.

Next came a pair of articles about what happens at the other end — when the fish arrive in Europe, that is. All those African fish? For sale daily at such places as London's Brixton fish market and — unless the proprietors try to sell only guilt-free fish — in restaurants.

Why the focus on Africa and Europe? As the article profiling the Brixton fish market points out,

bq. Fish is now the most traded animal commodity on the planet, with about 100 million tons of wild and farmed fish sold each year. Europe has suddenly become the world’s largest market for fish, worth more than 14 billion euros, or about $22 billion a year. Europe’s appetite has grown as its native fish stocks have shrunk so that Europe now needs to import 60 percent of fish sold in the region, according to the European Union. In Europe, the imbalance between supply and demand has led to a thriving illegal trade. Some 50 percent of the fish sold in the European Union originates in developing nations, and much of it is laundered like contraband.

Would you like a little smuggling with your meal?