No More Fish-Eaters?
#1
Well, here's some great news. From CNN.com:
 
 
Report: Seafood faces collapse by 2048
November 2, 2006

 
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Clambakes, crabcakes, swordfish steaks and even humble fish sticks could be little more than a fond memory in a few decades.
If current trends of overfishing and pollution continue, the populations of just about all seafood face collapse by 2048, a team of ecologists and economists warns in a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
"Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world's ocean, we saw the same picture emerging. In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems," said the lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
"I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are -- beyond anything we suspected," Worm said. (Who is catching what)
While the study focused on the oceans, concerns have been expressed by ecologists about threats to fish in the Great Lakes and other lakes, rivers and freshwaters, too.
Worm and an international team spent four years analyzing 32 controlled experiments, other studies from 48 marine protected areas and global catch data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's database of all fish and invertebrates worldwide from 1950 to 2003.
The scientists also looked at a 1,000-year time series for 12 coastal regions, drawing on data from archives, fishery records, sediment cores and archaeological data.
"At this point 29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed -- that is, their catch has declined by 90 percent. It is a very clear trend, and it is accelerating," Worm said. "If the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime -- by 2048."
"It looks grim and the projection of the trend into the future looks even grimmer," he said. "But it's not too late to turn this around. It can be done, but it must be done soon. We need a shift from single species management to ecosystem management. It just requires a big chunk of political will to do it."
The researchers called for new marine reserves, better management to prevent overfishing and tighter controls on pollution.
In the 48 areas worldwide that have been protected to improve marine biodiversity, they found, "diversity of species recovered dramatically, and with it the ecosystem's productivity and stability."
While seafood forms a crucial concern in their study, the researchers were analyzing overall biodiversity of the oceans. The more species in the oceans, the better each can handle exploitation.
"Even bugs and weeds make clear, measurable contributions to ecosystems," said co-author J. Emmett Duffy of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.
The National Fisheries Institute, a trade association for the seafood industry, does not share the researchers alarm.
"Fish stocks naturally fluctuate in population," the institute said in a statement. "By developing new technologies that capture target species more efficiently and result in less impact on other species or the environment, we are helping to ensure our industry does not adversely affect surrounding ecosystems or damage native species.
Seafood has become a growing part of Americans' diet in recent years. Consumption totaled 16.6 pounds per person in 2004, the most recent data available, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That compares with 15.2 pounds in 2000.
Joshua Reichert, head of the private Pew Charitable Trusts' environment program, pointed out that worldwide fishing provides $80 billion in revenue and 200 million people depend on it for their livelihoods. For more than 1 billion people, many of whom are poor, fish is their main source of protein, he said.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation's National Center for Ecological Synthesis and Analysis.
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#2
You will all have to move to New Zealand:

Quote:NZ seafood stocks not at risk, expert group says
Posted at 11:40am on 04 Nov 2006


Predictions that the world's sustainably managed fisheries are at risk do not include New Zealand, according to the seafood industry.

A major scientific study, published in the journal Science, suggests there will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century, if current trends continue.

However, Owen Symmans, chief executive of the Seafood Industry Council, says that from a local perspective the study is well off the mark.

Mr Symmans says the industry and Government monitor any risks on an annual basis, and quotas are reduced accordingly to ensure long-term sustainability.

Study defended
The lead author of the study into global fish stocks has defended the report's suggestion that the world's commercial fish supply may collapse within 50 years.

An international team of scientists headed by Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Canada published its research in the journal.

Commercial fishing organisations in Britain and Australia have dismissed the research, saying fish populations need to be studied regionally. However, Dr Worm says the nature of commercial fishing means it is inevitable the world's fish supplies will be exhausted.

The scientists maintain there will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the 21st century if trends continue. Stocks have collapsed in nearly a third of sea fisheries, and the rate of decline is accelerating.

They say the fisheries decline is closely tied to a broader loss of marine biodiversity. However, a greater use of protected areas could safeguard existing stocks.

Four kinds of data
The research involved scientists from many institutions in Europe and the Americas, drawing on four kinds of data.

Catch records from the open sea give a picture of declining fish stocks. In 2003, 29% of open sea fisheries were in a state of collapse, defined as a decline to less than 10% of their original yield.

Bigger ships, better nets and new technology for spotting fish are not bringing bigger returns - the global catch fell by 13% between 1994 and 2003.

Historical records from coastal zones in North America, Europe and Australia also show declining yields, in step with declining diversity of species.

Experiments performed in small, contained ecosystems show that reductions in diversity tend to bring reductions in the size and robustness of local fish stocks.

The final part of the jigsaw is data from areas where fishing has been banned or heavily restricted. These show that protection brings back biodiversity within the zone and restores populations of fish just outside.

Copyright Radio New Zealand 2006


Mind you, even as I type, RNZ news is now carrying refutations of the optimism of the NZ seafood industry by NZ environmental groups.
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#3
I don't really like fish. Sometimes when I'm typing "fisheaters" I accidentally type "fishhaters" instead.
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#4
It's funny how mainstream this story is (I've seen it all over) yet I found a very similar story 3 months ago on an "alternative news" site, and everyone probably thought it was tinfoil-hat material:
 
http://www.cathinfo.com/bb/index.php?a=topic&t=41
 
An excerpt:
Industrial society is overdosing the oceans with basic nutrients - the nitrogen, carbon, iron and phosphorous compounds that curl out of smokestacks and tailpipes, wash into the sea from fertilized lawns and cropland, seep out of septic tanks and gush from sewer pipes.
Modern industry and agriculture produce more fixed nitrogen - fertilizer, essentially - than all the Earth's natural processes. Million of tons of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, produced by burning fossil fuels, enter the ocean every day.
These pollutants feed excessive growth of harmful algae and bacteria.
At the same time, overfishing and destruction of wetlands have diminished the competing sea life and natural buffers that once held the microbes and weeds in check.
The consequences are evident worldwide.

 
"We're pushing the oceans back to the dawn of evolution," Jackson said, "a half-billion years ago when the oceans were ruled by jellyfish and bacteria."
The 55-foot commercial trawler working the Georgia coast sagged under the burden of a hefty catch. The cables pinged and groaned as if about to snap.
Working the power winch, ropes and pulleys, Grovea Simpson hoisted the net and its dripping catch over the rear deck. With a tug on the trip-rope, the bulging sack unleashed its massive load.
Plop. Splat. Whoosh. About 2,000 pounds of cannonball jellyfish slopped onto the deck. The jiggling, cantaloupe-size blobs ricocheted around the stern and slid down an opening into the boat's ice-filled hold.
The deck was streaked with purple-brown contrails of slimy residue; a stinging, ammonia-like odor filled the air.
"That's the smell of money," Simpson said, all smiles at the haul. "Jellyballs are thick today. Seven cents a pound. Yes, sir, we're making money."
Simpson would never eat a jellyfish. But shrimp have grown scarce in these waters after decades of intensive trawling. So during the winter months when jellyfish swarm, he makes his living catching what he used to consider a messy nuisance clogging his nets.
It's simple math. He can spend a week at sea scraping the ocean bottom for shrimp and be lucky to pocket $600 after paying for fuel, food, wages for crew and the boat owner's cut.
Or, in a few hours of trawling for jellyfish, he can fill up the hold, be back in port the same day and clear twice as much. The jellyfish are processed at the dock in Darien, Ga., and exported to China and Japan, where spicy jellyfish salad and soup are delicacies.
"Easy money," Simpson said. "They get so thick you can walk on them."
Jellyfish populations are growing because they can. The fish that used to compete with them for food have become scarce because of overfishing. The sea turtles that once preyed on them are nearly gone. And the plankton they love to eat are growing explosively.
As their traditional catch declines, fishermen around the world now haul in 450,000 tons of jellyfish per year, more than twice as much as a decade ago.
This is a logical step in a process that Daniel Pauly , a fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia, calls "fishing down the food web." Fishermen first went after the largest and most popular fish, such as tuna, swordfish, cod and grouper. When those stocks were depleted, they pursued other prey, often smaller and lower on the food chain.
"We are eating bait and moving on to jellyfish and plankton," Pauly said.
In California waters, for instance, three of the top five commercial catches are not even fish. They are squid, crabs and sea urchins.
This is what remains of California's historic fishing industry, once known for the sardine fishery attached to Monterey's Cannery Row and the world's largest tuna fleet, based in San Diego, which brought American kitchens StarKist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea.
Overfishing began centuries ago but accelerated dramatically after World War II, when new technologies armed industrial fleets with sonar, satellite data and global positioning systems, allowing them to track schools of fish and find their most remote habitats.
The result is that the population of big fish has declined by 90% over the last 50 years.
It's reached the point that the world's fishermen, though more numerous, working harder and sailing farther than ever, are catching fewer fish. The global catch has been declining since the late 1980s, an analysis by Pauly and colleague Reg Watson showed.

 
I guess that's what they call a "scoop"?
 
Matthew
 
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#5
My heart stopped beating when i read the title.....(didn't read in what section is was in however).

Does that mean on Friday we turn vegetarian?

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#6
How do they know???
Do they have scientists in scuba gear down to the very depths of the sea counting?...
 
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#7
No, that would be accurate.  Instead, they use statistics.
 
They'll watch an area and count, use fishermen's reports, etc.  From the numbers, they draw a general conclusion.
 
But statistics can be very misleading.  For example, if I went to a trad parish and took a poll of how many used birth control, you'd think almost no one in the world used birth control.
 
So, one of the important things is to use a sample population that is reflective of the general population you are trying to get a conclusion from.  Unless you are purposely trying to skew the results then you pick a population that will give you the results you want and massage the description so it looks right.  Like I would say "A poll of Christians shows that less than 1% uses birth control"
 
"Liars figure and figures lie"
 
Statistics does have some use, but I view it as more anecdotal.  It lets us know what path to start looking down to ask more questions.  It doesn't answer any properly.
 
Also, it's good for poker.
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#8
Quis --
 
That sounds good on paper, but I'm sure the shrimp farmer who started harvesting jellyfish knows what he's talking about.
 
If it was all lies, I'm sure he'd be harvesting something much higher up the food chain (and appealing) than jellyfish.
 
Matthew
 
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#9
QuisUtDeus Wrote: 
 
But statistics can be very misleading.  For example, if I went to a trad parish and took a poll of how many used birth control, you'd think almost no one in the world used birth control.
 

:laughing:
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#10
ChantCd Wrote:Quis --
 
That sounds good on paper, but I'm sure the shrimp farmer who started harvesting jellyfish knows what he's talking about.
 
If it was all lies, I'm sure he'd be harvesting something much higher up the food chain (and appealing) than jellyfish.
 
Matthew
 

I don't doubt the fisherman.  What I mean is that the population in that area may be affected for a particular reason and doesn't affect the ocean as a whole.
 
The fish may have moved to another area.  They may be overharvested in that particular area, predators may have moved in, their food source may be gone, etc.  And it may all be in that one area.
 
That's what I mean by statistics only opens up new questions.  The first one being: are we using the right sample population?   That's the first thing that comes to mind when I see polls or statistics.  What were they sampling and who were they asking?
 
It could certainly be that the correlation here is correct.    It's hard to know what they were doing without seeing a full study which the news never prints.
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