Just how badly are we overfishing the oceans?

Humans now have the technology to find and catch every last fish on the planet. Trawl nets, drift nets, longlines, GPS, sonar… As a result, fishing operations have expanded to virtually all corners of the ocean over the past century.  That, in turn, has put a strain on fish populations. The world’s marine fisheries peaked in the 1990s, when the global catch was higher than it is today.* And the populations of key commercial species like bluefin tuna and cod have dwindled, in some cases falling more than 90 percent. So just how badly are we overfishing the oceans?

See on www.washingtonpost.com

The ocean is not broken, but consumer behaviour is

In an emotional article making waves on social media at the moment, yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen reports seeing no marine life at sea, only floating rubbish, while sailing across the Pacific. He concludes that “the ocean is broken”.

I understand Ivan’s feelings, as I too have sailed tens of thousands of miles onboard research vessels and on my sailboat, enjoying the slow and silent pace of life propelled by wind and waves.

The two issues Macfadyen raises – overfishing and plastic pollution – are real problems. More than three-quarters of the oceans’ fish stocks have been depleted, sometimes beyond recovery. The global tuna industry, particularly, is better portrayed as the War On Tuna than a fishery. And the world’s oceans are filled with large amounts of plastic debris, which are eaten or caught up in marine life or seabirds, or which break down into microscopic particles that are ingested and affect wildlife in ways we don’t yet know.

English: The Pacific Ocean

So yes, there are plenty of problems in the ocean. But it is not yet broken. I am increasingly upset about reports that say it is; we scientists are to some extent to blame, as we love being the bearer of bad news, composing an overly apocalyptic narrative.

Depicting the ocean as broken and suffering from a litany of plagues including climate change, hypoxia, eutrophication, ocean acidification, marine pests, spreading jellyfish blooms, and loss of valuable habitat, suggests a problem beyond repair. This eventually deters society from engaging. These plagues are certainly real, but their severity is sometimes exaggerated through a feedback loop involving, among others, the spinning of research headlines to compete for media attention …

Read the full article on theconversation.com

Free images of dead sharks and other marine predators in distress

FREE SHARK CONSERVATION IMAGES! http://t.co/W9jcWbk0HM http://t.co/Lx3zx7WSHE

See on predatorsinperil.org

 

It’s Time to Stop Drift Gillnet Fishing off the California Coast

Earlier this week, federal fishery managers imposed emergency measures on the California drift gillnet fleet to protect endangered sperm whales. The action came two years after a pair of endangered sperm whales were killed in a single gillnet in 2010 in deep water west of San Diego.

The new measures from the National Marine Fisheries Service require that the swordfish fleet stop fishing for the season if a single endangered sperm whale is seriously injured or killed in a gillnet. All gillnet vessels that fish in deep waters (defined as 6,500 feet) must now carry on-board fishery observers at all times; before now, less than 20 percent of boats carried observers. And, for the first time, the gillnet fleet will be fitted with mandatory vessel monitoring systems that track the locations of every boat.

While these protections may prevent sperm whale deaths in the short term, the new regulations do little to stop the ongoing capture and accidental death of 130 or more other whales, dolphins, sea lions, and marine animals in the gillnet fishery every year. During the past decade, more than 1,300 whales, dolphins, and turtles drowned after getting tangled in California’s large-mesh drift gillnets. More than 100,000 giant ocean sunfish and 10,000 blue sharks were also caught and discarded during the last 10 years.

It’s time for this fishing practice to end. Drift gillnets are so deadly to marine life that the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington and on the open ocean. The method should be halted along the entire West Coast …

See on www.earthisland.org

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Fishing Banned

As part of the last meeting of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held this week in Bangkok (Thailand), the national government banned fishing for oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) in Brazilian waters. The decision was made in order to preserve this endangered species.

See on www.fis.com

Oceanic Whitetip 3

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