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Monday, February 20, 2012

World: Depleting the Seas of Fish

© Greenpeace
Depleting the Seas of Fish by Stephen Lendman

In November 2006, Washington Post writer Juliet Eilperin headlined, " World's Fish Supply Running Out, Researchers Warn," saying:

International ecologists and economists believe "the world will run out of seafood by 2048" if current fishing rates continue.

A journal Science study "conclude(d) that overfishing, pollution and other environmental factors are wiping out important species" globally. They're also impeding world oceans' ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients, and resist disease.

Marine biologist Boris Worm warned:
"We really see the end of the line now. It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things."
Researchers studied fish populations, catch records, and ocean ecosystems for four years. By 2003, 29% of all species collapsed. It means they're at least "90% below their historic maximum catch levels."

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In recent years, collapse rates accelerated. In 1980, 13.5% of 1,736 fish species collapsed. Today, 7,784 species are harvested.

According to Worm, "It's like hitting the gas pedal and holding it down at a constant level. The rate accelerates over time."

Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco said the study shows fish stocks are in trouble. "I think people don't get it," she said. "If there is a problem with the oceans, how come the case in my grocery store is so full? There is a disconnect."

National Environmental Trust vice president Gerald Leape said "This should be a wake-up call to our leaders, both internationally and domestically, that they need to protect our fish stocks. Otherwise they will go away."

Researchers conducted dozens of controlled experiments. They also examined UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) worldwide catch data since 1950 and ecosystem records. They include sediment cores and archival data going back a 1,000 years.

They said losing so many species is eroding marine ecosystem viability and their ability to resist environmental stresses.

"In 12 marine ecosystems surveyed, they found that a decline in biodiversity of 50 percent or more cut the number of viable fisheries by 33 percent, reduced nursery habitats by 69 percent and cut the ocean's capacity to filter and detoxify contaminants by 63 percent."

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