The Oceans Will Run Out Of Fish In 40 Years

Filed in International by on May 18, 2010

The greed of the developed world will be the tombstone of the planet.
From AFP:

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.”

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X Stryker is also the proprietor of the currently-dormant poll analysis blog Election Inspection.

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  1. Environment Song: Killing Me (Not So) Softly | May 18, 2010
  1. Matt says:

    Thank God I’m not a seafood eater

  2. Didn’t hear that 25 years ago that the oceans would be dead in 10 years? I do think that we need to set up a reward system for developing something that would degrade plastics back to carbon. Spray on them before they are buried and they help the environment. Give a 100 million dollar prize to the inventor of a cost effective and environmentally sound way to do it.

    It is painfully obvious that we can’t keep plastic coating our planet.

  3. Jeremy says:

    What a bunch of bullshit! People will believe anything! This is the most ridiculous story I’ve ever heard. Give me a break people!

  4. pandora says:

    Jeremy, could you please supply the scientific data that refutes this claim? I’ll wait.

  5. Jason330 says:

    God gave us the Earth to fuck in it’s ass. I think that is the default Republican position. It is not about science. It is about the magic book. BTW I love how David is always trying to resolve the cognative disonance between what he sees and what he knows he is supposed to think.

  6. I am just a realist Jason. I don’t think that I need to buy hook, line, and sinker the left’s panic in order to advocate the truth. We need to be more responsible environmentally. That is just a fact. We have an obligation to posterity.

    A lot of Republicans believe that. Democrats want a monopoly on ecological responsibility. It does not exist. They have a monopoly on ecopanic.

  7. Jason330 says:

    Your GOP programers are proud.

  8. xstryker says:

    “Didn’t hear that 25 years ago that the oceans would be dead in 10 years?”

    Yes, from Ted Danson. The actor. From Cheers. Not exactly a reputable peer-reviewed scientist.

    Google for the win, by the way. You post unsourced BS, I source it AND smash it. So don’t bring weak game to one of my posts.

  9. xstryker says:

    Also, what he said was that we had 10 years to save the oceans. Since then, massive campaigns against whaling have restored a number of species from the brink, and much legislation has been passed to protect coral reefs. Furthermore, Ted was right – in 1988, scientists predicted the formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which was in fact discovered in 1997. And countless marine animals have choked to death on plastic ever since.

  10. Smashed what, you just proved the ecopanic. It has existed for decades and has now infected some mainstream scientists. Historically they have been wrong more than they have been right. That is the nature of science. Shall we go back to the ecopanic of the population bomb with Paul Erlich and now Obama aid Cass Sunstein? We don’t need panic to scare us to do the right thing. Cleaning up after ourselves is important. We won’t have fishless oceans, but we could hurt ourselves to the point of devastaing the fishing industry.

  11. bamboozer says:

    They’ve done a great job of depleting The Grand Banks, once the worlds greatest fishery. The truth is that more than a few nations have used fishing as a source of relatively “free food”, forcing many countries to extend thier fishing boundries out to 200 miles.

  12. Geezer says:

    David: I don’t think you have done enough research on fisheries to declare that the oceans won’t run out of fish. Bamboozer is, if anything, understating the problem. The fact is that the cod have had 18 years to rebound on the Grand Banks and it hasn’t happened, and looks like it may never happen. A quick overview:

  13. xstryker says:

    “It has existed for decades and has now infected some mainstream scientists.”
    So, solid scientific evidence and a growing consensus equates to “infecting” “some” scientists?
    “Historically they have been wrong more than they have been right.”
    Well, sure, if you want to point fingers at Ptolemy, Aristotle, and Newton. Technically, Newton was wrong, you see, because he didn’t account for the effects of relativity. However, this didn’t stop gravity from working more or less the way he said it did. The actual trend of science is not so much a history of wrong ideas as it has been an ever-expanding accuracy. It’s hard to take this kind of criticism seriously from a guy who doesn’t believe in evolution.
    “Shall we go back to the ecopanic of the population bomb with Paul Erlich and now Obama aid Cass Sunstein?”
    This is a favorite red herring of the head-in-the-sand crowd, going after Malthusian overpopulation predictions and simply pretending the predictions of economists have the same factual weight as in-depth scientific studies. Red Herring: also called a “fallacy of relevance.” This occurs when the speaker is trying to distract the audience by arguing some new topic, or just generally going off topic with an argument.
    “We don’t need panic to scare us to do the right thing.”
    What you call ecopanic saved the whales, the Bison, the Grey Wolf, and has brought the Mountain Gorilla back from the brink of extinction. Activism works. Without “ecopanic” there would be no Clean Air Act and you would be breating sulphur. The doctors and scientists who said smoking caused cancer were laughed at by people who took the tobacco companies at their word. Your idea of common responsibility is laughable. Picture the shit people were eating before Upton Sinclair panicked them by publishing “The Jungle”.

  14. pandora says:

    Psst… David is not a scientist… in case you couldn’t tell. 😉

  15. steve says:

    this is 100% right. Everyone who is criticizing this should do the research to prove that it is wrong. Everywhere you look from scientist to the average fisherman will say fish are scarce. But its all about money and a quick fix. They will take what they can now, and not think about the future.