Small fish are under threat

The lack of government supervision over the size of fish caught in Greece’s waters could put both the marine environment and the local fishing industry at risk, environmentalists Greenpeace said yesterday. Greenpeace criticized the Development Ministry for failing to take any action over the trade in fish well below the European Union-imposed size limits. In a market review held last September, Greenpeace found that tons of undersized fish were being sold at two of the country’s largest seafood markets in Athens and Thessaloniki, meaning they had been pulled out of the water before they had a chance to reproduce. The government had responded to the news by saying that supervisory measures would be introduced once the right legislation is passed. «Four months after (the review) and there has been no essential progress. This has resulted in a lack of checks and the continued catching of undersized fish,» said Greenpeace’s Sofia Tsenikli, who oversees the campaign concerning the marine environment. Red mullet must be more than 11 centimeters long before being served on a dinner plate, while sea bass must not be less than 20 centimeters, according to the EU. Sea pollution and overfishing are considered to be the biggest threats to healthy seas, prompting governments to enforce limits on the size of the fish that can be netted. A possible marine environment problem in Greece could threaten thousands of jobs in an industry which is economically important due to the country’s physical geography. Greece’s lack of policing of the industry could also land the government in financial trouble. In July 2005, the EU fined France 70 million euros for failing to protect fish populations. Greenpeace called on the government to implement size controls and measures to protect fish populations. «Greenpeace asks that the Development Ministry protects the regions where fish being commercially exploited reproduce,» it added.