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Category: ocean

Hook, Line, and Sinker: There’s More on the Line than Just Fish

For approximately 3 billion people in the world, both wild-caught and farmed seafood are their primary source of protein. Moreover, an estimated 85 percent of marine fish stocks are either overfished or fully exploited. But the problem of overfishing is not just an issue of consumption; the types of fish we choose to eat and the way in which we catch these fish are related to many other issues--namely food waste, environmental destruction, corruption, and even human rights.

Bycatching, or the portion of a commercial fishing catch that consists of marine life caught unintentionally, is a persistent problem. Some estimate that the global bycatch may make up 40% of the world’s overall catch, which totals 63 billion pounds per year. This has a significant effect on sea life, with many fisheries discarding more fish at sea than they bring in, while also “injuring and killing thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles, and sharks each year.”

Its not just about the way fish are harvested, though, but rather the types of fish being harvested. Some of the most popular fish, such as Bluefin Tuna, have the biggest appetites. The Bluefin’s natural diet consists of a lot of other, smaller fish; farmed tuna are fed up to 15 pounds of other fish such as sardines and mackerel for each pound of tuna that can be sold.

Global Ocean Commission: "Our Oceans Are in Decline"

"Plastic is everywhere in the ocean."

"87% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted."

These are just two of a number of very troubling statements concerning our world’s oceans, as outlined in a report released last Tuesday by the Global Ocean Commission. The report, which comprehensively details the issues that pose a threat to the health of our oceans, asks that countries cease turning a blind eye to the immeasurable harm that they inflict regularly. It demands that countries make the rectification of our oceans’ health an immediate priority, or else face the risk of causing irreversible damage.

The report cites a rising demand for resources, new technological advances, the depletion of fish stocks, climate change, and weak high seas governance as the most prominent reasons for the decline in the health of our oceans. It explains that the world’s immense growth in population-- reaching 7 billion people in November 2011-- has driven the demand for the ocean’s treasure trove of resources to naturally unsustainable levels. It warns that a failure to address climate change would have a calamitous effect on the world’s oceans, potentially wiping out as much as 60% of ocean species by 2050.

The report goes further than simply identifying the root causes of the ocean’s demise; it offers up a series of important steps, most notably Proposals 1 and 2, which would help remedy many of the ocean’s issues.