We are eating up the ocean at an alarming rate.
Our voracious consumption of fish has been caught in a 10-year study by 400 global collaborators – and their conclusion is that fishing is anything but sustainable. According to the data in the Sea Around Us Project, we are taking 51% more fish from the sea than reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) whose database had been the go-to source for fish stats and fisheries management. (Photo – Robert Frerck, Odyssey Photo)
New Data on Illegal Fishing
The new study, published in Nature in Jan 2016, reports that there is a systemic under-reporting of global fish catches – from 20-30% under-reporting in developed countries, up to 200-300% from island nations. The Sea Around Us database includes never-before-reported information about illegal fishing, unreported and undocumented (IUU) catches by ‘distance water fleets” that operate in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ’s) of other nations, and are known for disregarding fishing agreements.
Breaking News (The Conversation Jan. 29, 2017) A great article on what fishing means to indigenous peoples around the world. See “For indigenous communitites, fish mean much more than food”
Plus see our recent post on a Girl’s Science Club project to solve the problem of marine by-catch, see: SOS: Girls’ Science Club Seeks Feedback, Insight from Marine Experts
Breaking News: read our post on the impact of rising ocean temperatures on fish migrations.
Ocean is more productive than thought
Lead author in the Sea Around Us study, Dr. Daniel Pauly says it’s not all bad news. The data suggests that the ocean is more productive than thought and conservation and good fisheries management may have better results than anticipated. “If we rebuild stocks, we can rebuild to more than we thought before,” he said. Dr. Pauly explains why fish are declining in this video. https://youtu.be/8DH2Fp7OP34
New collaboration protects Underwater Highways
After 30 years of negotiations, the governments of Ecuador, Columbia and Costa Rica have delineated their maritime borders, agreed to share charts and data, and have extended their marine protected areas to 83,600 square miles to ensure a sustainable fishing industry by protecting the underwater highways used by migrating marine life. The three countries, with UNESCO World Heritage sites; the Galapagos, Malpelo and Cocos Island, share some of the most bio-diverse marine resources in the world. The countries announced their working relationship to protect this contiguous ecosystem in a press conference in Sept 2016. (Photo – Robert Frerck, Odyssey Photo)
Smaller Marine reserves and Sustainable Fishing
The three Latin American nations have taken some notes from conservation science, and recognize that a series of smaller areas can provide protection for highly mobile species like sharks, rays, whales, turtles, tuna and bill fish; that one large reserve cannot protect these pelagic species that spend their life cycles in different areas; and that a huge reserve on the high seas is not necessarily the answer for species that breed, feed or rest in coastal areas. (photo – Burt Jones, Secret Sea Visions)
See our related post on Leonardo DiCaprio’s purchase of a Farmed Fish company, is farming seafood the answer to diminished fish stocks?? See: DiCaprio Finds Ocean Conservation in Farmed Seafood
Marine Protected Areas are Economic Opportunities
The importance of this three-nation collaboration cannot be understated: It is the recognition that marine protected areas are economic opportunities, placing ocean management as a key national strategy for sustainable economic development. Industrial fishing supports this groundbreaking agreement because they have experienced first-hand that they are a major beneficiary of sustainable fishing and the abundant fish spill-over from well-manage marine protected areas. Watch for more countries diving into collaboration on ocean management in 2017. (photo – Robert Frerck, Odyssey Photo)
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