Skip to comments.Warmer seas, over-fishing spell disaster for oceans: scientists
Posted on 04/14/2008 11:10:23 AM PDT by cogitator
The future food security of millions of people is at risk because over-fishing, climate change and pollution are inflicting massive damage on the world's oceans, marine scientists warned this week.
The two-thirds of the planet covered by seas provide one fifth of the world's protein -- but 75 percent of fish stocks are now fully exploited or depleted, a Hanoi conference that ended Friday was told.
Warming seas are bleaching corals, feeding algal blooms and changing ocean currents that impact the weather, and rising sea levels could in future threaten coastal areas from Bangladesh to New York, experts said.
"People think the ocean is a place apart," said Peter Neill, head of the World Ocean Observatory. "In fact it's the thing that connects us -- through trade, transportation, natural systems, weather patterns and everything we depend on for survival."
Marine ecosystems and food security were key concerns at the Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, an international meeting of hundreds of experts from governments, environmental groups and universities.
"There is a race to fish, but in wild capture fisheries right now we can catch no more," said Steven Murawski, fisheries chief science advisor at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"We catch 100 million metric tonnes per year, and that's been very flat globally. Our only hope is if we conserve and rebuild stocks," he said, adding that sustainable aquaculture could help make up the shortfall.
The current plunder is risking long-term sustainability with "too many fishing boats taking too many fish and not allowing the stocks to regenerate," said Frazer McGilvray of Conservation International.
"Once the oceans are gone, we're gone. The oceans sustain the planet."
The world has already seen the effects of over-fishing, experts said.
North Atlantic cod fisheries collapsed in the 1990s, anchovies previously disappeared off Chile, herring off Iceland and sardine off California.
Sixty-four percent of ocean areas fall outside national jurisdictions, making it difficult to reach international consensus or to stop illegal fishing -- a growing concern as high-tech ships scour the high seas.
"It's the Wild West. It's a very small number of boats but the technology allows them to take enormous amounts of fish," said Neill.
"They take only the high commercial product and they throw the bycatch overboard. The waste is extraordinary."
Marine life is also being harmed by climate change, said Murawski.
"We've seen that fish populations go up and down with variations in the climate," he said. "Increasingly we are starting to see long term change affect the productivity, the distributions, the migrations."
The trend is speeding up, Murawski said.
"Our forecasts are wrong," he said. "The melt-off is much faster than has been forecast in the models."
Meanwhile land-based pollution puts heavy strain on oceans, said Ellik Adler of the UN Environment Programme.
"Rivers of untreated sewage, factories, refineries, oil industry discharge their effluent into the marine environment, and this causes huge damage," he said. "Marine pollution has no political borders."
There are few easy fixes, experts said, but one initiative now being considered is setting up a global network of marine protected areas.
"You've got to get agreements between countries," said consultant Sue Wells, whose has worked in coastal East Africa. "Some developed countries have already closed some areas, and most coastal countries are now considering it."
Satellites could monitor no-catch areas, she said, while inspiration could come from South Pacific fishing communities.
"They have taboo areas, coral reef sanctuaries, where fish would be saved for bad weather periods or major festivals and feast," she said. "They know if they leave an area and don't fish there, they'll have much better stocks."
It is a view that has been lost in modern times, she said, where the common view now was "if I don't go and fish it, someone else will."
It's that time, apparently.
Warmer seas? Do these clowns ever read the latest temp measurements? What loons.
It is a shame that the global warming that IS going on, which we are not responsible for, will get all the press that this REAL problem should be getting. We really do need to take better care of the oceans. Now, if we can get CHINA to stop polluting....
I guess I must be an optimistic fisherman. Seems there is still 25% of something or other out there to exploit for profit, change bait and lets go fishing.
I was watching “Dangerous Catches” on TV the other night, and the crab and cod fishermen in the Bearing Sea were complaining how the winter of 2007 was the worst in a few decades. Also, the icecap was moving south at a faster rate than normal, cutting off some prime fishing grounds.
The ocean temperatures have been dropping, despite computer models which say otherwise. Oh well, I am sure cooling temperatures are just as disastrous. Either way, we are all gonna die and it is our fault.
Indeed. The oceans are NOT getting warmer.
I think that if 21st century industrialized societies can model themselves after oceanic societies from the South Pacific, we'll all be better off. A little head-hunting, a little cannibalism, a little "throw the virgin in the volcano" and before you know it the human population on the planet will be down to a manageable level.
What a crock. See this:
(Enjoyable read; the scientists can't really accept the oceans are NOT warming and actually show some cooling!!)
South China Sea is not looking well these days. Could be trouble with the fish. They have to go farther out and the fish they catch are smaller.
So the Russian trawlers will leave the U.S. coastal waters, and China will institute pollution control. Right?
Maybe we could start feeding the fish and crabs #2 Feed Corn from the Midwest so they will grow faster and we won’t starve.
Just realized that it was you that posted the article. Forgot for a moment that you are FR’s biggest Al Gore supporter and Kool-Aid drinker when it comes to global warming. I’d suggest you re-educate yourself by reading some of the articles here:
Over fishing for sure.
They are talking about closing Salmon season up here in the PNW too.
The other thing the article fails to mention is we have fished all the higher trophic fish down to where all we have left is the shrimp and other tiny lower trophic marine life
Haven’t had a crab season here on the Oregon coast for a couple of years.
It is all imported from Canada/Alaska and you’ll see King Crab legs.
And in place of USA prawns it is all Asian stuff and frog legs in the fish window (I don’t get that) frog legs from China.
So all the tourist coming through think they are getting local fish not.
The Indian Casino buffets have the only seafood buffet and it is nothing to write home about.
Tuna here in the PNW was shown to be actually growing in population according to the Marine Scientists.
Post the SST anomaly maps again in July, so we can see how La Nina’s doing then.
Sea level rise since 1994, based on global satellite measurements (radar altimetry). Main cause of this trend; thermal expansion of the oceans, augmented a bit by increased ice melt from continental ice masses.
Regarding the link; the upper 200 meters are a bit variable, as demonstrated most notably by the El Nino and La Nina phenomena. Give it time. 4 years isn't enough time.
Salmon fishing is to be reduced 80 percent (I recall) off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington.
That news matches the global trend. Why do you focus on the South China Sea in particular?
More Chilean Sea Bass Senator Kerry?