Overfishing continues at a shocking rate, as countries break one environmental promise after another
When it comes to stopping overfishing in coastal ocean waters, there’s a whale of a gap between what nations pledge to do and what happens at sea. That’s the grim conclusion of a new study published in PLoS Biology, the first global assessment of human management of fisheries — designated areas where fish and aquatic animals are caught — whose coauthors include renowned marine biologists such as the late Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
It’s well documented that many of the world’s major fisheries are in shocking decline. Some 90 percent of the world’s big fish, such as bluefin tuna, blue marlin and Antarctic cod, have almost disappeared from the oceans since the advent of industrial fishing in the 1950s, according to a groundbreaking paper published in Nature in 2003 by Myers and Worm. And by 2048 the world’s supply of seafood will likely simply run out, Worm and other marine biologists warned in the pages of Science in 2006. As of 2008, 80 percent of the world’s fish stocks were considered either vulnerable to collapse or already collapsed.
Even though some of the seafood comes from farms and more renewable sources, why take a risk? Stick to fish that can be farmed efficiently and sustainably, and leave the wild stocks be. Or alternatively, skip the seafood altogether. As shown in The Tragedy of the Commons, multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long term interest for this to happen. It’s up to each one of us to encourage regulation and responsible consumption of seafood in order to avoid this massive loss of life in the ocean.
Write your local MP (or representative) about a responsible local and foreign fishing policy.