The greed of the developed world will be the tombstone of the planet.
The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned.
“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.
Keep in mind, this report is based solely on overfishing estimates. They are not calculating the affect of man-made pollution such as the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, which was the size of Massachusetts in 2008, before the BP spill, which by the way is vomiting 3000 barrels of oxygen-depleting natural gas for every 1 barrel of oil. Or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is larger than Texas and will soon be larger than the continental US. There’s an Atlantic Garbage Patch, too. And let’s not forget the looming threat of Ocean Acidification.
Environmental experts are mindful of the failure this March to push through a worldwide ban on trade in bluefin tuna, one of the many species said to be headed for extinction.
Powerful lobbying from Japan and other tuna-consuming countries defeated the proposal at the CITES conference on endangered species in Doha.
Without leadership, we will hurdle over the cliff. The United States must become a global leader on the environment, because no one else will do it for us.
According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed, meaning they yield less than 10 percent of their former potential, while virtually all fisheries risk running out of commercially viable catches by 2050.
Currently only a quarter of fish stocks — mostly the cheaper, less desirable species — are considered to be in healthy numbers.
The main scourge, the UNEP report says, are government subsidies encouraging ever bigger fishing fleets chasing ever fewer fish, with little attempt made to allow the fish populations to recover.
The annual 27 billion dollars in government subsidies to fishing, mostly in rich countries, is “perverse,” Sukhdev said, since the entire value of fish caught is only 85 billion dollars.
As a result, fishing fleet capacity is “50 to 60 percent” higher than it should be, Sukhdev said.
Now there’s a solution even conservatives could love – cutting government subsidies to private industries. Of course, the article also notes that approximately 1 billion people, mostly poor, eat fish as their primary source of protein, and hundreds of millions of jobs are at stake. This is why the solution to our environmental problems must necessarily be intertwined with addressing poverty and unemployment. Clearly, though, allocating 27 billion dollars to produce 85 billion dollars worth of fish that are teetering on the brink is a waste of resources.
Creating marine preservation areas to allow female fish to grow to full size, thereby hugely increasing their fertility, is one vital solution, the report says.
Another is restructuring the fishing fleets to favor smaller boats that — once fish stocks recover — would be able to land bigger catches.
“What is scarce here is fish,” Sukhdev said, “not the stock of fishing capacity.”
I should mention that the article also does not cover what would happen to marine ecosystems if commercial fishing stocks disappear. Presumably it would also threaten sharks and whales, as well as marine birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Do you want to live in a world without fish? “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”