Tag Archives: overfishing

‘No Fish Left Behind’ Approach Leaves Earth With Nowhere Left to Fish, Study Finds

3 Dec

ScienceDaily (Dec. 2, 2010) — Earth has run out of room to expand fisheries, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia researchers that charts the systematic expansion of industrialized fisheries.

In collaboration with the National Geographic Society and published in the online journal PLoS ONE, the study is the first to measure the spatial expansion of global fisheries. It reveals that fisheries expanded at a rate of one million sq. kilometres per year from the 1950s to the end of the 1970s. The rate of expansion more than tripled in the 1980s and early 1990s — to roughly the size of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest every year.

Between 1950 and 2005, the spatial expansion of fisheries started from the coastal waters off the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific, reached into the high seas and southward into the Southern Hemisphere at a rate of almost one degree latitude per year. It was accompanied by a nearly five-fold increase in catch, from 19 million tonnes in 1950, to a peak of 90 million tonnes in the late 1980s, and dropping to 87 million tonnes in 2005, according to the study.

“The decline of spatial expansion since the mid-1990s is not a reflection of successful conservation efforts but rather an indication that we’ve simply run out of room to expand fisheries,” says Wilf Swartz, a PhD student at UBC Fisheries Centre and lead author of the study.

Meanwhile, less than 0.1 per cent of the world’s oceans are designated as marine reserves that are closed to fishing.

“If people in Japan, Europe, and North America find themselves wondering how the markets are still filled with seafood, it’s in part because spatial expansion and trade makes up for overfishing and ‘fishing down the food chain’ in local waters,” says Swartz.

“While many people still view fisheries as a romantic, localized activity pursued by rugged individuals, the reality is that for decades now, numerous fisheries are corporate operations that take a mostly no-fish-left-behind approach to our oceans until there’s nowhere left to go,” says Daniel Pauly, co-author and principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project at UBC Fisheries Centre.

The researchers used a newly created measurement for the ecological footprint of fisheries that allows them to determine the combined impact of all marine fisheries and their rate of expansion. Known as SeafoodPrint, it quantifies the amount of “primary production” — the microscopic organisms and plants at the bottom of the marine food chain — required to produce any given amount of fish.

“This method allows us to truly gauge the impact of catching all types of fish, from large predators such as bluefin tuna to small fish such as sardines and anchovies,” says Pauly. “Because not all fish are created equal and neither is their impact on the sustainability of our ocean.”

“The era of great expansion has come to an end, and maintaining the current supply of wild fish sustainably is not possible,” says co-author and National Geographic Ocean Fellow Enric Sala. “The sooner we come to grips with it — similar to how society has recognized the effects of climate change — the sooner we can stop the downward spiral by creating stricter fisheries regulations and more marine reserves.”

The University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, in the College for Interdisciplinary Studies, undertakes research to restore fisheries, conserve aquatic life and rebuild ecosystems. It promotes multidisciplinary study of aquatic ecosystems and broad-based collaboration with maritime communities, government, NGOs and other partners. The UBC Fisheries Centre is recognized globally for its innovative and enterprising research, with its academics winning many accolades and awards. The Sea Around Us Project is funded in part by the Pew Environment Group. For more information, visit www.fisheries.ubc.ca and www.cfis.ubc.ca.

The National Geographic Society, the Waitt Foundation, the SEAlliance along with strategic government, private, academic and conservation partners including the TEDPrize, Google and IUCN, are beginning an action-oriented marine conservation initiative under the banner of “Mission Blue” that will increase global awareness of the urgent ocean crisis and help to reverse the decline in ocean health by inspiring people to care and act; reducing the impact of fishing; and promoting the creation of marine protected areas. For more information, go to www.iamtheocean.org.

original article @ sciencedaily.com

Save Our Sharks – A must watch video (and share)

17 Oct

Sharks are being killed at alarming rates around the world mostly to supply the demands for shark fin soup in the East. If this situation doesn’t change quickly we risk losing any chance we still have of saving our sharks before they’re gone forever. This short film won a Panda award at the Wildscreen Film Festival 2010.

*WARNING: This film contains some graphic images of sharks being killed and finned.*

Showdown on Bluefin Tuna

17 Oct

@ New York Times

A bluefin tuna is harvested from a tuna farm off the Calabrian coast in Italy

A bluefin tuna is harvested from a tuna farm off the Calabrian coast in Italy

In advance of an annual meeting of bluefin tuna fishing nations next month in Paris, scientists and environmental groups are sharply questioning the validity of scientific data being used to set catch levels for the fish, which remains highly coveted as sushi but is increasingly threatened by commercial overfishing.

A scientific panel convened in March by the international commission that regulates the Atlantic bluefin catch suggested that this year’s quota not exceed last year’s limit of 13,500 tons. Such a catch would give bluefin stocks a 60 percent chance of recovering by 2019, the panel said.

But many national fisheries continue to ignore their obligation to provide accurate data on how many bluefin they land each year, making accurate quotas virtually impossible to produce, outside observers assert.

“Some years, some countries don’t report,” Brad Smith, a marine ecologist with the Pew Environment Group, said in an interview. “Or they report too late. Or they underreport. When there’s so much non-compliance, nobody complains.”

According to Pew, more than 85 percent of countries failed to meet reporting deadlines or to accurately report data on their bluefin tuna activities in 2009. Some countries in the Mediterranean, where most bluefin is caught, may be underestimating the size of their catch by as much as two-thirds in some years, Mr. Smith said.

Meanwhile, the large illegal bluefin catch is also being widely overlooked from year to year, he added.

“We need to get illegal fishing under control, at the very least,” he said.

There is little dispute that bluefin stocks have declined sharply in recent years, with wide agreement that the population of these large ocean-crossing fish are down to no more than 15 percent of their historical levels. But there is growing concern that the bluefin is poised for an even more dramatic crash, one that could push the species over the brink into commercial extinction.

At a United Nations conference earlier this year, an attempt was made to list the bluefin tuna as a threatened species, which would prevent it from being traded internationally. Strong opposition from Japan and other bluefin fishing nations sank the measure.

Some important political players at the upcoming meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or Iccat, in Paris have vowed to take a tough stance on problems facing the bluefin, however.

In an interview last month, Jane Lubchenco, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator, said the United States would press for scientifically sound management of the bluefin at the meeting.

“It’s time for all members to step up to their responsibilities,” Dr. Lubchenco said. “At the last Iccat meeting there was good progress, but not enough.”

She added, “If the agreements are insufficiently strong, we would consider a moratorium.”

Several European Union countries, including France, have also said that they are open to a moratorium to allow tuna stocks to recover.

“The bluefin is a special case — there’s a danger of the collapse of the stock,” Maria Damanaki, the European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, said in a recent interview.

“What I can say for sure is that we’re going to follow the scientific advice” at Iccat, Ms. Damanaki said. “We’re not going to back down.”

‘Slavery’ uncovered on trawlers fishing for Europe

30 Sep

article from Guardian.co.uk

Exclusive: EJF find conditions including incarceration, violence, and confinement on board for months or even years

Pirate fishing boat
The trawlers have mostly been identified engaging in pirate fishing off west Africa. Photograph: EJFShocking evidence of conditions akin to slavery on trawlers that provide fish for European dinner tables has been found in an investigation off the coast of west Africa.

Forced labour and human rights abuses involving African crews have been uncovered on trawlers fishing illegally for the European market by investigators for an environmental campaign group.

The Environmental Justice Foundation found conditions on board including incarceration, violence, withholding of pay, confiscation of documents, confinement on board for months or even years, and lack of clean water.

The EJF found hi-tech vessels operating without appropriate licences in fishing exclusion zones off the coast of Sierra Leone and Guinea over the last four years. The ships involved all carried EU numbers, indicating that they were licensed to import to Europe having theoretically passed strict hygiene standards.

the ships are crewed by untrained, illiterate workers housed in dismally unsafe and unhygienic living conditions Link to this video“We didn’t set out to look at human rights but rather to tackle the illegal fishing that’s decimating fish stocks, but having been on board we have seen conditions that unquestionably meet the UN official definition of forced labour or modern-day slavery,” EJF investigator Duncan Copeland said. A report on the abuses is published by the foundation today.

Its photographs and film of the areas in which the crews were working and sleeping show quarters with ceilings less than a metre high where the men cannot stand up. Temperatures in the fish holds on some vessels where men were being required to sort, process and pack fish for lucrative European and Asian markets were 40 to 45 degrees, with no ventilation, On some vessels the crews of up to 200 had little access to clean drinking water.

The trawlers have mostly been identified engaging in pirate fishing off west Africa. Many of the men on board have been recruited from the area around the Senegalese capital, Dakar. Others have been recruited from rural areas of Asia, including China and Vietnam, by agents.

According to a recent estimate illegal fishing accounts for between 13% and 31% of total catches worldwide each year, but accurate figures are hard to come by.

Study shows: Oceans on brink of mass extinction

3 Sep

It’s not the first time scientists warn us for a coming mass extinction in the oceans. Massive decline of the big fishs, dying coralreefs and the destruction of the ocean floors. Again scientists give us a frighting warning about our oceans

from ABC science

Climate change, over-fishing and other human impacts have pushed the oceans to the brink of a mass extinction that could take tens of millions of years to recover from, an Australian scientist says. Dr John Alroy from Macquarie University in Sydney has used the fossil record of the ocean, dating back more than 500 million years, to study how major changes in marine animal groups take place.

His work is published today in the journal Science. In the course of the past 540 million years, marine animals have undergone several mass extinctions that saw dominant life forms suddenly replaced by others, he says. For example, about 250 million years ago, species of animals known as lamp shells, which had dominated sea-beds, were suddenly replaced by clams and snails.

read whole article

Asian, Japan to brainstorm ideas for fishing industry growth

25 Aug

Can you believe it? We live in a time of rapid decline, half of the fish are on the break of extinction our coral-reefs are dying. All around the world the fishery industry is in troubled water, small fisheries around the coasts of the worlds find it hard to catch any fish. But Japan and Asia are talking how to expand there fishing industry to sustain the food-supplies for a growing asian community.

Article http://www.nationmultimedia.com

With their countries major suppliers of fishery products, representatives from Asean member states and Japan will gather in Bangkok next year to map out measures for developing the industry and ensuring food security and safety in a constantly changing environment.

Negative factors such as climate change, ageing populations, natural disasters and the financial crunch could all affect food supply in the world market and trading competency, Suriyan Vichitlekarn, assistant director and head of the Agriculture Industries and Natural Resource Division of the Asean Secretariat, said yesterday.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world population will increase from 6.2 billion last year to 9 billion in 2050. This will clearly mean an enormous rise in food consumption.

read the whole article

Britain prepares for mackerel war with Iceland and Faroe Islands

23 Aug

Article: Guardian.co.uk

It’s summer, and off the coast of Britain anglers are enjoying a blue-grey abundance of mackerel. Barbecued, smoked, or baked in cider, this firm favourite provides a seasonal guilt-free treat, certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The future of mackerel as a healthy, sustainable fish is at stake after Iceland and the Faroe Islands unilaterally awarded themselves the lion’s share of north Atlantic stocks. Photograph: H Taillard/Corbis
But in a dispute echoing the cod wars of the 1970s, Britain and the EU are on the brink of a mackerel war with Iceland and the Faroe Islands, who have ripped up agreed quotas, unilaterally awarding themselves the lion’s share of north Atlantic stock.

UK fishermen are furious; the EU is condemnatory. Those in the industry, meanwhile, claim that the dispute puts at risk not only the future of Britain’s pelagic fishing industry, but the future of mackerel itself as a healthy, sustainable fish.

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