31 January 2012

The ongoing rape of our oceans

Excerpts from a report at the Center for Public Integrity:
Jack mackerel, rich in oily protein, is manna to a hungry planet, a staple in Africa. Elsewhere, people eat it unaware; much of it is reduced to feed for aquaculture and pigs. It can take more than 5 kilos of jack mackerel to raise a kilo of farmed salmon. Yet stocks have dropped from an estimated 30 million metric tons to less than 3 million in two decades. The world’s largest trawlers, after depleting other oceans, now head south toward the edge of Antarctica to compete for what is left...

Meantime, industrial fleets bound only by voluntary restraints compete in what amounts to a free-for-all in no man’s water at the bottom of the world. From 2006 through 2011, scientists estimate, jack mackerel stocks declined by 63 percent...

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says that global fishing fleets “are 2.5 times larger than needed.” That estimate was based on a 1998 report; since then, fleets have expanded...

Chile now has only sardines in relative abundance, he said. “We have no more jack mackerel or hake or anchoveta. Fisheries that produced a million or more tons a year have simply run out from overfishing by big companies.”..

Album says government support has created so much capacity that super trawlers must fish to their maximum for return on investment. “These vessels roam the oceans for any available fish, causing overfishing and unbearable pressure on governments trying to manage resources,” he said.
More at the link, which is the third installment in a series entitled "Looting the Seas."


  1. This brings to mind a series of world maps I once saw that documented the decline of large pelagic fish like tuna and swordfish. It showed annual catches by decade, and the areas where they were predominantly caught were represented by blue patches. It was horrifying to see those blue areas shrink, decade by decade, from the 50's - when most of the world's oceans were shown as blue - to the 90's - when there were tiny, isolated blue patches scattered here and there around the world. So disheartening.

    1. Not sure if its where you saw that but it was in The End of the Line, the documentary about overfishing.

      Came here to mention it. Collapse/extinction of all edible species
      (uh, "seafood") by 2048?

  2. I am really going to miss eating fish...

  3. stop eating meat, it's destroying our morals, our bodies and most importantly this planet and it's creatures.

  4. I believe strongly that the word 'rape' must be reserved to describe the violence of forced sex, that its use in other contexts dilutes the revulsion the word engenders, a necessary contributor to the fight against.

    The depletion of fish stocks is dramatic and alarming, and every story about it worthwhile. The sad fact is, it's remarkably difficult to get countries to act in concert to solve a problem when to do so requires they enact legislation that works to the common good but runs counter to the entrenched interests of strong voting and funding groups. That's just a fact of life, and an understandable one. Like many things we should be doing, in our own private lives as well as at a societal level, we must struggle against our own selfish nature in order to accomplish some necessary goals.

  5. If the ocean was sold into plots and made private property, this would not happen.


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