Numerous people have been contacted in the early stages of development. This page highlights some feedback received.
Institutions and individuals contacted
My first impression is that we changed slightly the focus of the project from "working with aquaria on fish conservation, including fisheries issues such as overfishing" to "working on overfishing issues with aquaria" ... As far as I understood the request of the donors the main entry point for the project has to be European Aquaria.
Why zoos & aquariums?
Why target zoos and aquaria as they are not directly related to commercial fishing?
Why not go for the restaurants, and diners? The US has been very successful in informing consumers on what fish they should eat, and which they shouldn't.
To be honest, I think this is an issue that public awareness has very little bearing on. It is largely one that can only be solved by legislative action. This is because of the extremely international aspects of fishing. Even if every single person in Europe was aware of the issues, the factory ships would simply sell their catch elsewhere.
Understand public perceptions
Getting information about attitudes and perceptions is key to developing a good strategy, where both the (eating) public and fisher folk call the shots.
Make sure that your initial consultations with the public (to gauge their perceptions) was done so in such a way as to provide you with a unique selling point for the three year duration.
Something your campaign does not address is that fish farming -- often cited as a viable alternative -- often has even grater problems and is environmentally more damaging.
Although I fully support the aims of many of the above awareness raising activities I personally feel uncomfortable with some of the outcomes. For example the MSC certifies sustainable fisheries but there are many problems with this process that the public may not be aware of and that you should consider e.g. many fisheries in developing nations simply can not 'afford' to be certified. Therefore this may actually negatively impact on the livelihoods of fishers from these nations. I suggest that you do not want to be in the position of developing an initiative that is under fire from the outset from all fishers groups.
... well the European over-fishing one will be a challenge because of the strong lobby interests, of course. We've (WB) hired people to get to the bottom of this in the SWIO through the FAO rules but it is next to impossible because FAO-UN are not very good at monitoring or enforcing their own stock assessment rules. Your best angle is probably to educate on the 'good things' that Europeans are doing to self-regulate and then define the 'remaining challenges' ... that way you might get some industry buy-in (though the more realistic alarmist approach would be to say what is going wrong and then look at the 3% of that which is being fixed. :)
The aquaria fish should be easier. You should check out the sustainable harvesting stuff for aquarium fish. The Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) is the entry point for that (see http://www.aquariumcouncil.org/)
You might also check out the life reef fish bulletin put out by spc. It is easy to follow and always up to date. You can subscribe free or see most of it on-line via:
I welcome the initiative but with what I have read so far it is hard to distinguish it from the many previous initiatives that have been run by WWF, IUCN, Audubon society, The Marine Stewardship Council etc.
May I suggest that as a first step you first revise what has been done in the past by the above organisations and see what you can build on etc.
I think you need to involve the public in some way with people working in this industry e.g. fishermen. You could easily involve some European fishermen and perhaps some West African fishermen (who are watching their fish stocks being vacuumed up by European fishing boats).
Overall I think the public needs to know that the seas are a source of
- food and fibre and
- its is a resource that needs to be managed in a sustainable manner.
If you need some fishermen let me know I should be able to dig up some from Lands End in England.
I think that we have to be careful not to launch a campaign outside of the aquarium regular work. My own experience shows that aquarium visitors are, most of them, not keen to get a lot of info, not keen to read too much text; they are more tourist than student; they want to enjoy their visit more than learn a lot. So I think that the more difficult point of our project is to integrate it as much as possible in the existing materials given to the visitors : guide leaflet, map of the place, entry ticket, panels and all kind of fixed explanations beside the aquarium tanks, and others items sold at the shop, e.g. guidebooks. My concern is that efforts made on printing more materials will fill up the garbage boxes.