Leading article: Small fry

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Less cod, more anchovies.

That's the message from Villy Christensen, of the University of British Columbia, who says that our appetite for large fish is leading to an imbalance in marine ecosystems.

While we deplete the oceans of bigger predatory species such as cod, tuna, swordfish and groupers, the smaller fish that make up their diet are multiplying. The solution, we are told, is to increase our consumption of "forager fish" such as sardines, anchovies, pilchards and herrings.

It makes scientific sense, but it might be a difficult message for us British to act on because Mr Christensen is effectively asking us to pick on the little guys. Plus, these smaller fish have not traditionally been a fixture in our diets in the way they have in other countries.

Still, perhaps we can find a way around that. Whitebait, stargazy pie, Worcestershire sauce: we do have our uses for small, oily fish. So let's do our bit for the balance of the oceans and fill our plates with the little guys.