Endangered species of fish are still easily available at seafood counters at Finnish grocery stores.
According to a fresh report by the FinnWatch information service, the fishing industry is overshadowed by overfishing and illegal fishing.
Seafood listed as endangered by WWF, which is nevertheless available in Finland include redfish, yellowfin tuna, eel, monkfish, as well as tropical shrimp.
According to the report, ethical consciousness among Finnish buyers of fish has increased. Grocery stores and workplace cafeterias are reported to have taken a more responsible policy line in acquisition of fish.
However, only a small proportion of Finnish fish wholesalers would disclose the origins of their fish.
“Openness decreases the closer one gets to the actual fishing. There may be something to hide. They do not want to talk about all of the species”, says FinnWatch researcher Päivi Pöyhönen.
Only two subcontractors admitted that they were not absolutely sure about the origins of their fish.
Heavy demand combined with efficient fishing methods have depleted fish stocks. The increased popularity of sushi has raised consumption of bluefin tuna so much that there have been fears that it might become extinct.
Fighting the negative aspects of fishing are various environmental certificates. Experts say that one of the most reliable is that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Fish with an MSC label is certified not to be the result of overfishing, and to have been caught using methods that do not harm other species. However, the certification process is too expensive for some companies.
Dozens of fish products with an MSC certificate are available in Finland. Pöyhönen wishes that consumers were more familiar with the label.
“For instance, import of MSC-certified yellowfin tuna was cancelled because of a lack of demand”, Pöyhönen says.
Two thirds of fish eaten in Finland is imported.
WWF recommends domestic fish, which is usually of ethical origin. The most endangered species in Finland include sea trout, Saimaa char, the eel.