Mundus maris motto at the Green Week - Let the baby fish grow!

Let the babyfish grow! is the motto of the stand with which Mundus maris participates in this year's Green Week in Brussels.

It shows that the legal minimum size of cod (Gadus morhua) in the North Sea at 35 cm is only little more than half the size at which most individuals in the population would have spawned (reproduced) at least once.

In other words, most cod caught and landed are still baby fish. To ensure a healthy stock and a healthy fishery, they should have a size of at least 68 cm or bigger in the North Sea.

Clearly, at the moment, the legal context and the practice of the fisheries do not follow a viable strategy. As we have seen recently, it's neither ecologically sustainable, nor economically very interesting. This way, we have lost entire, once productive, populations of cod. Carrefour, the international supermarket chain tried to sell out sad-looking baby cod at a hefty discount, 6€ the kilo instead of 12€. We show this ill-conceived ad on our Facebook page. We believe, producers and consumers can do better, for everybody's benefit. Increasing the size would allow consumers a no-regret meal and producers and traders a better and more sustainable income!

This is why we offer information materials for all age groups at the Mundus maris stand at Green Week to draw attention to the problem and encourage search of solutions. Fish rulers helping to show the minimum size of fish are a practical step in this direction (see one for the North Sea pictured above). Colouring pages for parents of young children, information sheets, flyers and book markers for the visitors of all age groups are a reminder that nature offers a free meal to those who control their appetite and let the babies grow.

The headline for this year's Green Week is 'Every Drop Counts'. The water challenge has many facets, including that of restoring wetlands, of restoring freshwater and marine ecosystems to healthy and productive states and of managing water resources in an ecosystem context that avoids overdraft, pollution and other unsustainable practices.


Karl Falkenberg, Director General of Environment of the European Commission, opened this year's Green Week on 22 May by reminding the full meeting room in the Charlemagne Building of the many water challenges. The programme offers a menu of parallel sessions ranging from greater water efficiency and maintaining or improving water quality in Europe to sessions focussed on the particular water scarcity in the Mediterranean and access to safe water in Africa and Asia.

Already on Day one, the Mundus maris stand attracted a good number of visitors who engaged in lively discussions. Visitors were interested in the fish rulers and their use to determine the minimum size of fishes from the North Sea and the Baltic. They were fascinated to learn about the early reactions to testing specific fish rulers in the FAO-Nansen project on introducing the ecosystem approach to fisheries in Senegal and Gambia.

Many visitors were already active themselves in environmental technologies and education. They appreciated the Mundus maris approach of bringing sciences and artistic expressions together when reflecting and acting on currently unsustainable practices in the fisheries.

Young parents picked up the colouring sheets for small kids in addition to the flyers available in five languages. The Darwin posters and fish rulers were also popular and nobody went away without a book marker.

Mundus maris received a number of interesting offers for collaboration and suggestions, e.g. to set up new school projects in and around Brussels to engage more young people in the search for replacements of current unsustainable practices.



A videoconference on Thursday, 24 May, coordinated by Patricia Morales of the University of Leuven, connected the Mundus marisstand with partners in São Paulo, Brazil, and in Córdoba, Argentina. The discussion was followed by a group of students of the University of Leuven. Central points of the exchange were how to protect the sea and increase water security, particularly for vulnerable parts of society. The exchange contribute to connecting Green Week also to Latin America, particularly in the run-up to Rio+20 and for promoting a people-based constructive follow-up to the mega-gathering.

As Green Week is drawing to an end with conclusions on what to do to protect water resources, increase resource use efficiency, improve the interface between science, society and policy-making processes the Mundus maris team is gauging the effects on its own work.

One proposal to the organisers of Green Week is to increase the focus on young people in the next edition. One way could be to launch a video or painting competition in the preparation of Green Week 2013 that could involve schools across Europe and include a youth forum, where the most creative proposals can be show-cased and young people can be directly involved in the debate and development of orientations for future work.

For its part, Mundus maris has now launched an invitation to find names for the baby fish mascots on the poster, which attracted so much attention to the need to stop eating baby fish. We would all rather like to continue enjoying Nature's free meal of delicious fish and seafood rather than end up eating jellyfish burger. In the process we would also hope to counter the current exodus triggered by the decline of maritime culture and associated unsustainable practices. We'd rather be part of the offer for an attractive future for young people in the protection and sustainable use of the sea by introducing low-impact fisheries and associated maritime activities. Here is the information about the contest:

Please help us find names for the two baby fish which are our mascots. What's the challenge?
1. Propose a she- and a he-name and explain why you propose the(se) specific names and what they mean to you.
2. Imagine what the baby fish go through to avoid being caught before they have grown to adulthood and have had babies themselves. Tell the story!
3. Make suggestions as to what can be done to protect baby fish.

Give the name, place and country of your school or youth group, indicate the age and how many boys and girls make up the class / group. Give the e-mail and a snail-mail address of the coach, team leader or teacher and send your proposals to Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo. by 15 July 2012.

The submissions will be reviewed by an international jury and the best ones selected.

Mundus maris offers the winning team exclusive pins with the names of the baby fish, painting materials for the entire group, fish rulers and other prizes. We will also publish the best stories and recognise the authors (whether group or individual).

We will also start a series of short video-interviews with scientists and other personalities about overfishing and what can be done against it to help ensure rebuilding of productive marine ecosystems providing us with healthy seafood and viable maritime communities. Every second breath of air we take depends on the oceans. Our climate and much of our food - whether directly from the sea and freshwater rivers and lakes or indirectly through their role in the water cycle - depends on the oceans. A good reason to care and take more people along on the journey.