Ocean's Bounty is Gone
As humans we have a duty to ourselves and to future generations to preserve this planet as a sustainable habitat for the human, and by logical extension, for all other species living here. Clearly we are not doing so.
As Bill McKibben reports in the Miami Herald, according to a study published in Nature this spring, "the populations of every single species of large wild fish have fallen by 90 percent or more. The sharks, tuna, marlins, swordfish, halibut and grouper that have managed to survive are, on average, one-fifth to one-half the size they were 50 years ago. In the deep oceans, where Japanese fleets use fishing lines many kilometers long, they used to catch 10 fish per 100 hooks; now they are lucky to catch one."
From: OBRL-News Bulletin
Subject:- Ocean's Bounty is Gone
Published on Thursday, June 5, 2003 by the Miami Herald
Ocean's Bounty is Gone
by Bill McKibben
When people accuse environmentalists of exaggerating the damage that humans have done to the planet, sometimes its because they simply can't remember what the world once was like. None of us really can; Human memories are short.
But every once in a while some piece of news brings back that former world. The journal Nature this spring published the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the worlds fisheries. Simply put, it concluded that the worlds oceans are wrecked.
In the past 50 years, the populations of every single species of large wild fish have fallen by 90 percent or more. The sharks, tuna, marlins, swordfish, halibut and grouper that have managed to survive are, on average, one-fifth to one-half the size they were 50 years ago. In the deep oceans, where Japanese fleets use fishing lines many kilometers long, they used to catch 10 fish per 100 hooks; now they are lucky to catch one. Fifty years is not very long. Eisenhower was president; we had television; rocknroll was young; people who have not yet started to consider themselves middle-aged were being born.
Even then the oceans were somewhat impoverished. The schools of cod that had greeted the first Europeans in the New World -- cod 5 and 6 feet long that you could catch by dipping a basket in the sea -- were already reduced. But the damage had barely begun.
Pretty soon new technology was at work: fish-finding sonar, big factory ships that could wait offshore for months, helicopters for chasing tuna. The equipment was so good that fishermen could keep bringing in sizable catches right until the moment that the populations crashed for good. Once Canadian cod fishermen were able to efficiently locate the nurseries where the fish spawned, for instance, they were able to drag their trawls right through them. On paper everything seemed fine until 1992 when, finally, the nets came up empty.
The Canadian government imposed a moratorium on cod fishing that year, a ban thats still mostly in effect. Hundreds of communities were wiped out.
''Ten years ago we had 118 guys in our bar baseball league,'' one Canadian fishermen told me a few years ago. "Forty-eight of them don't play anymore. They've moved away.''
But it was a case of bolting the dock door after the fish had fled. Cod populations have been cut by 99 percent, and the ecology of the ocean may have been changed so profoundly that they're never coming back.
Overall, say the authors of the Nature study, we would need to cut total ocean fish catches by 50 percent to give stocks any chance to recover. Instead, fishing pressure may actually be increasing. As big species are wiped out, the fleets go for smaller fish. Pilchard and anchovy catches are way up, in part so that they can be ground into fishmeal and fed to those farmed salmon you find in the supermarket.
''We have forgotten what we used to have,'' Jeremy Jackson of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography told reporters who asked him about the Nature study. ``We had oceans full of heroic fish -- literally sea monsters. People used to harpoon 10-foot-long swordfish in rowboats. Hemingways 'Old Man and the Sea' was for real.''
So were passenger pigeons darkening the sky; so were buffalo herds shaking the plains; so were ancient forests piercing the sky. Now there are only echoes -- and even those we hardly care about. Congress, for instance, still contemplates drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, breeding grounds of one of the worlds last big caribou herds. Perhaps its a good thing our memories are so short. Perhaps we couldn't live with ourselves otherwise. Bill McKibben is the author of 'The End of Nature'.
OBRL-News-Bulletin is a product of the non-profit Orgone Biophysical Research Lab
Greensprings Center, PO Box 1148
Ashland, Oregon 97520 USA
Building upon the discoveries of the internationally acclaimed natural scientist, Wilhelm Reich.
See also these recent articles:
Oceans Have Fewer Kinds of Fish By Juliet Eilperin - The Washington Post
Friday 29 July 2005
The variety of species in the world's oceans has dropped by as much as 50 percent in the past 50 years, according to a paper published today in the journal Science.
Hooked On Fishing And Were Heading For The Bottom
The world has passed "peak fish" and fishermen's nets will be hauling in ever diminishing loads unless there's political action to stem the global tide of over fishing, says a fisheries expert based at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Daniel Pauly says the crisis in the world's fisheries is less about scientific proof than about attitude and political will.
North Sea cod and herring under threat
June 26, 2006
Researchers in Norway, England and the Netherlands are trying to determine why at least 15 types of fish have moved farther north to colder water, Aftenposten reported Monday, noting some fish not usually seen in the North Sea, such as the swordfish, have been observed.
October 2006: Marine Scientists Report Massive "Dead Zones"
Rising tides of untreated sewage and plastic debris are seriously threatening marine life and habitat around the globe, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned in a report Wednesday. The number of ocean "dead zones" has grown from 150 in 2004 to about 200 today, said Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesperson.
Study: 90% of the ocean's edible species may be gone by 2048
Oversight of commercial fishing must be strengthened or there may eventually be no more seafood ... 29% of those species have "collapsed," meaning a 90% decline in the amount being fished from the sea, said Boris Worm, lead author and a professor of marine conservation biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
A possible solution: A report on catch share fishing
In an equal share fishery, 50 boats equally divide up a 100 tonne quota of halibut so each is allowed to catch two tonnes. Shares could be traded as well. This “ownership” over the stock provides a financial incentive to grow it.
The key to making it work is each vessel must account for everything they catch. Detailed logs are backed up by a video system that automatically records every fish caught. The logs and videos are audited by a third party and the data is considered so accurate that it is now used by scientists, Erikson said.
“We removed the competition at sea by working it out on shore”.
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Tuesday June 10 2003
updated on Tuesday March 3 2009
URL of this article:
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