22 October 2013

How the world's oceans are being destroyed

Excerpts from an essay published in the Newcastle (NSW) Herald, by a man who recently sailed the western Pacific:
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.  The birds were missing because the fish were missing...  No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all...

North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.

"All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship," he said. And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.

"Obviously I was worried. We were unarmed and pirates are a real worry in those waters. I thought, if these guys had weapons then we were in deep trouble." But they weren't pirates, not in the conventional sense, at least. The speedboat came alongside and the Melanesian men aboard offered gifts of fruit and jars of jam and preserves.

"And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish," he said. "They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.

"We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That's what they would have done with them anyway, they said.

"They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day's by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing."
The essay goes on to detail seeing evidence of the Japanese tsunami in mid-ocean -
Ivan's brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United States, marvelled at the "thousands on thousands" of yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, everywhere.

Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea...
All of this is anecdotal, of course, but still unbelieveably tragic.  The children of our generation will inherit a world with vastly depleted and damaged oceans, and those living far inland will not be unaffected.


  1. disturbing. very disturbing.

  2. We've been polluting and exploiting the seas for thousands of years treating it like it was eternal and it's bounty without limit, we've been wrong. The sea has often been treated like an exotic and alien environment that doesn't touch us all the time, which is baffling as it is most of the world, it's this detachment that will contribute to the ruin of the world. I know, not very upbeat but I don't see promise of a brighter future in how we treat the largest sewer of our civilization.

  3. All old news, but a terrible problem and one that gets almost no attention.

  4. And now the lionfish are taking over the Atlantic, eating everything they encounter. They are an "introduced" species and have no natural predators in the Atlantic. I'm glad I'm old and will die soon (well, soon enough) so that I will not have to deal with these problems which are not of my making. I do believe that humankind will be gone before 2100.

    1. It'll be us and our vermin until thereks no air left to breath, humankind will see 2100 and beyond, we'll ride this planet hard and leave nothing.

  5. My brother I recently sailed his boat across the Coral Sea from Vanuatu to Australia. (which is the western Pacific Ocean). Took 7 days. We trolled the whole time and caught zero fish. In 7 days I saw exactly one fish, a large 12 foot shark. He probably came over to check us out to see if we were edible since there was nothing else to eat around.

    I have never in my life done blue water crossings without catching something. Usually we catch 2 to 4 fish a day, which gives us dinner. It made me very sad.

    I didn't see the trawlers described. But something has wiped out all life from that part of the ocean.

    1. Wow, I really hate to hear confirmation like that. But thank you for posting the information, Ron.


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