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It seems that we humans, as land-dwellers, have little appreciation of our world’s vast oceans. The oceans provide us with 70 percent of the  world’s oxygen and absorb 30 percent of the greenhouse gases that we release into the atmosphere. But, despite this amazingness, we feel free to take as many fish as we want from those mysterious depths, and fill them with untold amounts of chemicals, plastic, and other trash.

Fears that we are taking far too much from our oceans – without making adequate efforts to replace what has been lost – have been building for years. After WWII, the development of sonar technology began to take off and with it, so did the methods used to locate and capture large swaths of fish for consumption. The proliferance of large-scale commercial fishing operations has pushed many species of fish to the brink of extinction, with some conservation experts predicting that our oceans could be empty by the year 2048 if fishing continues at its current rate.

Methods such as long line fishing, bottom trawling, and the use of purse seine nets often devastate marine ecosystems by removing far more fish from an area than was intended. Bycatch – a term used to describe untargeted marine animals who end up in enormous commercial fishing nets – is also a serious problem that threatens species such as turtles, dolphins, sharks and manta rays. Using incredibly advanced and aggressive technology to meet demands for seafood, we’re waging a war on our oceans.

It has been difficult for us to even quantify the damage we are doing to the world’s oceans – but this image illustrates just what’s going on.

Yikes! New Study Finds That We've Grossly Underestimated the Volume of Overfishing

 

new study published in the Nature Communications Journal has attempted to set about accurately measuring the impact that overfishing has had on marine animals. While acknowledging the importance of fish to rural people in developing countries – many of whom rely on seafood for sustenance – the authors Daniel Pauly and Drik Zeller added that “the growing popularity of fish in countries with developed or rapidly developing economies creates a demand that cannot be met by fish stocks in their own waters (for example, the EU, the USA, China, and Japan). These markets are increasingly supplied by fish imported from developing countries, or caught in the waters of developing countries by various distant-water fleets.”

As a result of high levels of consumer demand in developed countries, small-scale fisheries that have traditionally supplied coastal and interior rural communities in developing countries are struggling to survive. Data from these fisheries are frequently omitted from the bi-annual United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report – which is generally regarded by policy makers and scholars as the only reliable set of global fisheries statistics in the world.

The FAO had previously known that around 80 percent of global fish stocks were “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.” It also knew that around 90 percent of large predatory fish stocks, such as sharks, swordfish, and bluefin tuna, had witnessed a steep decline in their numbers since the 1950s. However, there were hopes that the situation was beginning to improve, and in 2014, the organization stated that the global capture level of 93.7 million metric tons in 2011 – the second-highest level ever, behind 1996’s 93.8 million ton figure – while high, represented “a continuation of (a) generally stable situation.”

Pauly and Zeller teamed up with 50 institutions around the world to help fill in gaps in the FAO’s official data, identify where data might be missing or misrepresented, and consult with local experts in order to to come up with a more accurate estimate of how great a problem overfishing really is. They found that global catches were on average, 50 percent higher than FAO estimates, peaking in the mid-1990s at 130 million metric tons. The reconstructed data suggested that the global catch level in 2010 was nearly 109 million tons, in comparison to the official figure of 77 million tons.

Another salient discovery of Pauly and Zeller’s study was that global fish catches have been declining since the 1990s at a faster rate than the FAO had been aware of.

Pauly said, “Our results indicate that the declining is very strong, and the declining is not due to countries fishing less. It is due to the countries fishing too much and having exhausted one fish after the other.” He added that overall catches are likely to decline further in the future, due to climate change. “In the future there will be another mechanism that will begin to play a role (in catch declines) – that is global warming – and it will be very difficult to separate from the effects of fishing,” he predicted.

If you want to help avoid the nightmare scenario of mass oceanic species extinction that many experts fear may lie ahead, the single most powerful and immediate step you can take is to leave seafood off your plate. To learn more, check out some of the articles below:

Lead Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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159 comments on “Time to Get Real. There Aren’t Plenty of Fish in the Sea and It’s Our Fault”

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terry bigler
3 Months Ago

the problem is and always wi;; be overpopulation,,the numbers of people on the planet has grown by a factor of 12 since 1965..This means more sewage,more plastic,more garbage,more co2,more heating of the atmosphere,more clearing of land,more destruction of habitat,driving more extinctions.The problem is caused almost exclusively by too many people.Of course ther willbe arguments that this will result in more human groups being destroyed and so people keep breeding,our epitaph for the extinction of the human race will be "we burned,we built,and we bred"we are driving ourselves toward extinction as a species and deny the possibility,,If we do not show some discipline we are finished as a species.When the oceans are depleted hundreds of millions will starve,this will set off wars of extinction ,couple this with the loss of drinking water from melting glaciers and loss of land masses to support them ,we are in big trouble..The one percent as always will try to get the rest to fight their wars for them,but this will come at a terrible cost.Most of Africa,and most island nations along with areas of elevations below 75 feet will will go under or starve out..Our technology will ultimately do no good,as the one percent will attempt self protection,but will be taen down by the starving masses.What will you do when you can\'t buy anything,and your money becomes useless.In a very short time world populations will fail because there will be so many dead they will remain unburied causing disease to propagate.Some will survive but it may not be sufficient as infrastructures collapse.As it stands now most individuals are not self sufficient and governments will withhold any information until it is too late..This is the future unless we leard to control populations worldwide. Who will choose which races survive,and can we even agree that we must limit populations for the planet to contain us,who will comply.I tell you this,those populations that have no means to escape will be the first to crash.Areas which have to choose between drinking water and water for crops and animals,are doubly damned.Borders will close, wars of attricion will start ,populations will prey upon themselves.Extinction has many faces and speeds,and when push comes to shove each group will think of themselves exclusively.All this can be prevented by birth control and allowin the oceans rest to rebuild .So what do we need to do,,stop large offshore fishing,stop making any sort of plastic material and begin cleaning up what has already been dumped on the environment,stop wholesale deforestation and create public electrical transportation powered by natural means of wind,solar and water..Personally I give about a zero chance that any serious attempts will be made until populations cannot escape their refuse and sewage,by which time it will be too late..Insn\'t it intresting to note that extinction will come in a plastic container.and you will not be able to drink to that fact as ther will be no water.Have a nice day


Reply
Jeff Biss
3 Months Ago

Stop eating meat people! Fish are conscious beings and we don\'t need meat to sustain life or health and so we have the moral obligation to stop this holocaust for their benefit.


Reply
James Oliver
10 Months Ago

Nice article on Marine life protection.

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Reply
David
1 Years Ago

The prime culprits for over-fishing are the Chinese whose fishermen gobble everything from the seas, whether they need it or want it or not. Their boats are everywhere on all oceans depleting stocks wherever they throw their nets, while interfering with the fishing of the local populations who rely on the fish as part of their diets.

The Chinese fishermen are now going after lobsters, crayfish, salmon almost as though these fish were made for them alone.

Shameful.


Reply
Kate
1 Years Ago

They are disappearing fast into the nets of greedy fishermen. it is appalling that they try to blame other animals for the lack of fish and then kill them for what they are doing. To many people in this world and i feel no pride in being one of them. the ply solution is for us to become extinct. Although there are many good and caring humans we/they are out numbered by the rest who think it acceptable to take as much as they want with no regard for the consequences of their actions. . Of course they can only see that there are fewer fish with no thought as to the real reason why that is.


Reply
Carol
1 Years Ago

Human overpopulation.


Reply
Carol Ames
18 Jun 2018

That alone is the main driver: too many humans!

Nisa Mars Counter
2 Years Ago

go vegan.


Reply
Edward Iamnoone
2 Years Ago

Human selfishness and greed.


Reply
Edward Iamnoone
2 Years Ago

Human selfishness and greed.


Reply
Bri BriYo
2 Years Ago

Im pretty sure 98% of animal suffrage is basically our fault... we need to do something now!


Reply


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