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Legal / Regulatory

July 10, 2020 - Hakai Magazine

ICELAND: Please Do Not Feed the Wildlife

ICELAND: Please Do Not Feed the Wildlife
Seabirds, waiting in anticipationFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Of the tens of millions of fish caught globally every year, nearly 10 percent get chucked back into the ocean. Many animals, from fish to dolphins to seabirds, feed on these castoffs—a behavior that has biologists concerned that they are becoming reliant on the food source.

In places like Europe’s North Sea, where fishing vessels dump fish waste with impunity, seabird populations are soaring to artificially—and unsustainably—inflated numbers, says Daniel Oro, a biologist at the Spanish National Research Council.

One nation, however, has resolved to minimize the amount of fish wasted at sea, and new research suggests its decades-old effort is influencing the ways seabirds forage. Iceland, in 1984, became one of the first European nations to ban discarding fish waste at sea.

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