Archive for Over-fishing
www.independent.co.uk 16th August 2012
Scientists have created a “systematic way of scoring the health of the world’s oceans” in an attempt to evaluate their health in the face of growing problems such as pollution, overfishing, and acidification. The Ocean Health Index (graph below) places the overall health of the world’s oceans at 60 out of 100. The worst affected areas included the territorial waters of Sierra Leone, which scored just 37 and failed in every one of the ten measures the index uses to measure the sea’s health. Measures include water quality, biodiversity, and the sustainability and productivity of local maritime industries, such as fishing and tourism. Interestingly, the survey found that waters of the coasts of developed countries such as Germany differed little on the index than those in remote areas such as Jarvis Island in the Pacific Ocean. The survey was put together by 30 scientists and published in Nature. Only 5% of countries rated over 70 whereas a third were below 50. Great Britain weighed in at 61, just above the global average but below the US (63) and Germany (73).
A new short film called ‘What’s the Catch’ by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) that highlights the problems of pirate fishing.
www.independent.co.uk 11th July 2011
UK waters are now so over-fished that if we were to rely purely on fish from them, and not import any from abroad, the supply would only last 6 months of every year. As the UK consumes less fish, on average, than other EU countries our so-called Fish Dependence Day (the day local supplies would run-out if we were only to consume them since the 1st January) is slightly later than places like Spain and Germany. Whereas the UK Fish Dependence Day is on the 16th July (in 2010 it was 3rd August, and in 1995 it was 24th August), in France it is the 13th June, Spain 8th May, Italy 30th April and Germany on the 27th April. The data was released by the thinktank New Economics Foundation and coincides with the finishing touches being made by Maria Damanaki, the European Fisheries Commissioner, to Common Fishery Policy reforms. It is hoped the reforms will concentrate on long-term fish stock sustainability rather than fisherman short-term profit.
For more information on the need to reform the EU’s Common Fishery Policy go to Hugh’s Fish Fight.
LMV warning, violent and bloody scenes.
Quoted from source:
‘Lesley Rochat spent 2 years researching the subject and securing an opportunity to film on a longline vessel. Lesley goes out on a limb, single-handedly, to investigate both legal shark longlining and illegal shark finning off the coast of South Africa. Armed with her camera and the passion to make a difference, she boarded a shark longline vessel for two days and captured disturbing, high quality footage of mass shark slaughter. In good journalistic style she uncovers that the threat to shark populations in South Africa lies with the local governments inadequate management and compliance of this resource. Though South Africa is a small contributor to the world slaughter of over 100 million sharks each year, Sharks in Deep Trouble is indicative of the global plight of sharks. General inertia of governments worldwide in taking responsibility for their natural resources is driving many fish species, including many shark species to extinction. The documentary was broadcast on 50/50 in South Africa to over 1 million people. It contains footage rarely seen which shocked viewers, bringing many to tears.’
www.lemonde.fr 31st January 2011
A new report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has stated that the global consumption of fish hit an all time high in 2010. The need to reconstruct collapsed fisheries was labelled as “urgent” as the number of fish stocks either overfished, depleted or recovering from depletion rose in 2010 to 32% of total stocks. The increase, according to the FAO, is mainly down to the rise of aquaculture, which has almost overtaken wild fisheries in supplying people with fish. Almost half the world’s population, around 3 billion people, rely on fish for 15% of their diet. To combat falling fish stocks (global catch rates have been in decline since 1988), the FAO has said that the world’s governments needed to clamp down on illegal fishing practices, which account for between $10 and $23.5 billion of fish stocks per year. It has also been suggested that a global register of fishing vessels be created with each ship being given an identification number that cannot be changed, even if the vessel changes its flag.
www.guardian.co.uk 28th January 2011
Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Channel 4 documentary on the problems of current fishing practices has been a fantastic success. 600,000 have signed his petition to make fishing practices more sustainable and big retailers have reported large increases in sales of sustainably sourced fish. However, concerns have been voiced on the solutions put forward in the program. By simply diversifying the type of fish we eat, we are not necessarily reducing the impact on heavily fished species such as cod and plaice. In fact, since the program aired this month (it can be seen here on Channel 4 OD), British supermarkets Waitrose and Marks and Spencer announced an increase in fish sales of 15% and 25%. The UK already consumes far more fish than its fish stocks are able to support and the country’s fishing industry relies on imported species for 5 months of the year. By simply asking people to eat a wider variety of fish, Hugh and his team, despite the great work they have done, have not tackled the heart of the problem: we need to eat less fish. The population of the UK consume, on average 20kg of fish every year. That is half of the Spanish average and a third of the Portuguese, but still much more than the global average. With three-quarters of the EU’s fish stocks overexploited, encouraging more people to eat fish, whatever the species, is unlikely to help the problem with overfishing.
Don’t forget to tune into Channel 4 on Tuesday 11th January at 9PM for British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight. Hugh is leading a new campaign to make British fish supplies sustainable. His new program focusses on the incredibly wasteful manner in which target species are caught, usually with a high amount of ‘by-catch’ (other species), which are then thrown back into the sea dead. For fish in UK supermarkets, by-catch often includes turtles, dolphins, and sharks. The 3 part program continues over Wednesday and Thursday at the same time and includes other famous chefs such as Jamie Oliver. Greenpeace also feature in the program. If you are not able to watch it on TV, click here to be taken to Channel 4′s On Demand website where you can watch the programs retrospectively completely free!
www.independent.co.uk 13th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Britain and the EU are on the verge of a trade war with Iceland and the Faroe Islands after talks to agree a quota for fishing mackerel collapsed. Iceland and the Faroes have set their own vastly increased quotas and walked out of negotiations with the EU which were intended to find a mutually acceptable figure. In what some observers are already calling “Cod Wars II”, EU nations are expected to take retaliatory action to put pressure on Iceland and the Faroes to reduce the quantity of mackerel they catch. The EU has already threatened trade sanctions which could result in a ban on Faroese and Icelandic imports of cod, herring, whiting, haddock and mackerel. Iceland set a 130,000-ton quota this year while the Faroes gave themselves an 85,000-ton quota. The figures are many times bigger than five years ago. Richard Benyon, the UK’s Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, said: “The lack of an agreement … on mackerel is a major threat to the stock’s future sustainability and we are considering what actions we can now take to make them see sense.” The row escalated on the eve of the EU Fish Council in Brussels, which starts today, where EU fisheries ministers will set catch quotas for a host of other species for the next year. Britain faces a further problem on the quotas because it has been claimed in a study by the the Pew Environmental Group that the three-quarters of UK fishermen who use boats which are less than 10 metres (33ft) long– many of them an environmentally friendly alternative to trawlers – are being illegally denied their fair share of the quota. This is because the quotas are distributed on behalf of the UK Government by Fishing Producer Organisations (FPOs) whose members sail mainly in bigger boats.’
www.nytimes.com 3rd December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘European nations will keep trawling the deep sea bottom, officials said this week, confounding hopes that they would honor commitments made to the United Nations General Assembly to stop the destructive practice. The Council of Fisheries Ministers, made up of officials from the 27 member nations of the European Union, said Monday that there would be little change in deep-sea quotas for the next two years, despite strong objections from the conservationist camp. Officials agreed to end deep-sea shark fishing and to restrict fishing for a handful of species, but in a victory for the French and Spanish fleets, fishing will continue largely as before. Deep-seas fisheries are defined as those below 200 meters, or about 650 feet. Deep-sea trolling and long-lining can lead to overfishing a stock, and dragging heavy nets across the bottom destroys coral and vegetation, disrupting the fragile ecosystem of the ocean floor. Making matters worse, deep-sea species tend to reproduce more slowly than species higher in the water column, so severely depleted stocks can face a tough road back to health even if significant conservation measures are eventually enacted.’
Read more at the New York Times.
e360.yale.edu 18th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘France, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries have forced the European Union to back off from supporting an ambitious plan to protect the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna, a fish whose numbers in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean dropped 60 percent from 1997 to 2007 because of overfishing. As international fisheries talks opened in Paris, the EU aborted plans to push for a 50-percent reduction in the annual quota of 13,500 metric tons in the Mediterranean, an aggressive target based on input from marine scientists. The officials will instead put more weight on the interests of local fishermen. While EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said it is not a position she agrees with, her commission “will respect its obligations as a negotiator on behalf of the European Union.” Europe’s reversal comes as officials from 48 nations gather for talks on setting quotas that protect the bluefin tuna, a fish whose meat is prized for use in sushi. Earlier this year, Japan led efforts to defeat a ban on the international trade of bluefin tuna during a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).’
www.independent.co.uk 18th November 2010
A campaign has been launched the celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to make the EU eliminate the fishing practice of discarding. As much as half of the fish caught by European fishing boats are discarded, dead or dying, back into the sea. This is because either the catch is the wrong species, or the fish are too small, or even because it would take the ship over its quota thereby disallowing the crew to land their catch. Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall launched his campaign following a television show he made highlighting the problem. ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’ will be broadcast on Channel 4 early in the New Year. Within two days of starting the campaign ‘Fish Fight’, 24,000 people signed up (the number is now around 57,000). The names will be added to a letter addressed Maria Damanaki, the European Fisheries Commissioner, demanding an end to the discards. Firm data on the amount of discard occurring in fishing fleets is uncertain as few boats record it. However, International Council for the Exploration of the Seas has released figures of 60% of cod caught in the North Sea is discarded. When fish of under a year are analysed, this figure rises to 90%. ‘Fish Fight’ has the support of the UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon and several projects around the UK coast have already reduced bycatch by using improved fishing equipment.
www.independent.co.uk 11th November 2010
Despite Europe’s eel population declining by 90% in the past 20 years, a recent convention to save the species has failed because the continent’s largest eel exporter, France, objected. Demand for eels on the global market has rocketed recently due to an almost insatiable demand from China. Glass eels, the juvenile translucent fish which are born in the Sargasso Sea on the other side of the Atlantic and then make their way to European waterways to mature, are a particular delicacy and prices have soared to £850 a kilo. In 2009 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) called for the eel trade to be controlled and EU’s Scientific Review Group recommended a complete ban on eel fishing this winter. However, with French fisherman threatening to go on strike, France has refused to sign up to a ban meaning no quotas are set for this year’s season. The UK, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Holland, and parts of Spain have all imposed their own bans. These countries only account for a small amount of the total eel catchment in Europe though. French eel fisherman use mechanised trawlers in the Bay of Biscay to catch their prey, which is likely to be higher than the total amount recommended by CITES of 14 tonnes campaigners say.
www.independent.co.uk 30th October 2010
A new report by the Noumea-based Secretariat of the Pacific Community has stated that due to poor management, climate change, over-exploitation, and population growth, the Pacific Island fisheries face collapse in 25 years. The situation is only set to get worse as wealthy nations outside of the 22 smaller island states demand access to rich fishing grounds amid a global decline in fish stocks. Furthermore, island populations are set to grow by 50% by 2035 to 15 million, an increase that is likely to fuel demand for unsustainable fishing practices. A collapse of the fishing economy, accompanied by a decline in the tourist trade due to ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and increased tropical storm frequency, all brought about due to climate change, would bring economic ruin to the region. The report has suggested a number of measures to safeguard Pacific Island resources including increased communication between the island states, stepping up policing of illegal fishing, and gradually reducing the number of foreign fishing vessels in the region.
The first attempt to produce a comprehensive survey of marine life has been undertaken by the Census of Marine Life (COML). The project is a huge undertaking but already the Census, contributed to by 2,700 scientists and 540 scientific expeditions over 10 years, has catalogued 250,000 marine species, including 6,000 that are newly discovered. It has also been estimated that as many as three quarters of a million species are awaiting discovery in the world’s oceans although the census admitted that it ”could not reliably estimate the total number of species, the kinds of life, known and unknown, in the ocean”. Those species do not include microbes which could number in the hundreds of millions of types. As well as cataloguing species, the COML also recorded migratory routes, meeting places, birth places, and even areas where species go to die. All the data is compiled in an online database open to the public (click here to taken to iobis.org).
Despite the optimistic tone in most of the report, the COML also made some stark warnings. Phytoplankton, the base species for much of the ocean’s food ladder and an important source of oxygen for the planet, has experienced a marked drop in numbers in recent times. Furthermore, due to overfishing and pollution, the world’s marine life has been ‘devastated’ by human action leaving many species close to collapse.
Sources: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment 4th September 2010
Several marine experts have accused the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the world’s biggest certifier of ethical fish, of giving in to ‘big trawler organisations’ and ‘fisheries racked by overfishing’. The London based organisation certifies 94 fisheries accounting for roughly 7% of the global fish catch. 13 certified fisheries are found in the UK, the second highest number in a country after the USA (which has 25). The international group of scientists outlined their accusation in the journal Nature. Their main point of contention was apparent steep falls in MSC certified fisheries such as pollock in the Eastern Bering Sea and the Pacific hake. According to the marine biologists, the former’s population has dropped by 64% between 2004 and 2009 and the latter’s by 89% since the 1980s. MSC, formed by Unilever and the WWF in 1997, denied the accusation and countered that the scientists had chosen ‘peaks in naturally fluctuating fish populations’ to draw their stark conclusions.
The signatories were Jennifer Jacquet and Daniel Pauly of British Columbia University, Paul Dayton and Jeremy Jackson of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, David Ainley, a marine ecologist in California, and Sidney Holt, a marine ecologist from Umbria in Italy.