Collapse of global fish stocks

To most people the oceans are seen as vast expanses of water. It is difficult to perceive the state of what lies beneath the surface.

Robert as pointed out a comment by RedLogix at The Standard (one of the commenters to watch out for for thoughtful comments):

Oh and on a quite different note; the collapse of global fish stocks is in steep decline. Just last night I was watching an interview with the very well-known SV Delos crew (the most popular sailing vlog of all time) … who mentioned that in the past 3 -5 years they’ve personally witnessed the total collapse of pelagic fish stocks.

In their early episodes crossing the Pacific 7 – 8 years ago, catching fish was a regular thing and reliable part of their provisioning. In SE Asia it dropped to a trickle, and some patches of the Indian Ocean were OK. But in 2017 after 25 days sailing with lures in the South Atlantic … nothing. Not one single fish.

No-one really knows the full picture of what is going on, but the anecdotes and data we do have is ugly.

The huge and growing human population relies a lot on food from the oceans, and if we don’t look after and protect fish stocks not only do we stuff the oceans, we will make it much harder to feed ourselves in the future.

Seeker: Oceans’ Fish Could Disappear by 2050

The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, UN experts said Monday.

“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.

A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones — ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.

The report, which was opened to preview Monday, also assesses how surging global demand in other key areas including energy and fresh water can be met while preventing ecological destruction around the planet.

UNEP director Achim Steiner said the world was “drawing down to the very capital” on which it relies.

However, “our institutions, our governments are perfectly capable of changing course, as we have seen with the extraordinary uptake of interest. Around, I think it is almost 30 countries now have engaged with us directly, and there are many others revising the policies on the green economy,” he said.

Collapse of fish stocks is not only an environmental matter.

One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source, according to the UN.

But if managed the oceans could be ok and fish stocks might recover (those that are not past the point of no return).

World Ocean Review: The global hunt for fish

Within a few short decades, industrial fishing has expanded from the traditional fishing grounds of the Northern Hemisphere to include all the world’s oceans and seas. Many stocks have been overexploited and are depleted. But the situation is not without hope. Some countries have shown that fish stocks can in fact recover when sustainable fisheries management systems are implemented.

But on a global basis management is difficult.

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  1. Missy

     /  February 19, 2018

    The control of fish stocks is one of the contentious points about Brexit for some in the EU.

    Despite the CFP being created to manage the fish stocks within the EU, it is contended by many British Fishermen that the policy is in fact depleting the stocks. It has also led to a decline in the fishing industry in the UK as the stocks are plundered by the EU. The British fishing industry, whilst declining, is also concerned about the decline of fishing stocks within UK territorial waters and the lack of sustainable fishing from other EU nations.

    Many EU countries, Netherlands and Portugal in particular, are not happy with the potential of losing the right to fish in the UK’s territorial waters post Brexit.

  2. PDB

     /  February 19, 2018

    Ironic then that the new govt appears to be ‘fishing industry friendly’ as Labour/Greens roll over for Winston’s fishing buddies & donors.

    Just the other day we saw Nash seriously looking at removing the requirement of cameras on fishing boats even though in Australia: “A study undertaken by the Australian Ministry of Agriculture showed the reporting of captured sea mammals and birds was nearly eight times higher on longline fishing ships after monitoring cameras were installed in 2015.”

    “The previous government committed to a rollout of cameras on fishing boats in July 2017.
    One of Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash’s first moves late last year was to delay the rollout of electronic monitoring equipment on the commercial fishing fleet to some time after October 2018. ”

    So much for the new govt being more environmentally friendly than the National one then.

    Then we have the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary again put on the back burner due to NZL First demands & Iwi (those ‘defenders of the environment’) fishing interests.

    “Fishing industry spokesman Charles Hufflett, a shareholder in family fishing company Solander, said the industry had lobbied NZ First to stop the sanctuary.”

    “NZ First leader Winston Peters and senior MP Shane Jones are intimately involved with the fishing industry. Fishing industry players associated with Talley’s, Sealord, Simunovich and Vela Fishing have all donated to their campaigns, either this election or previously.”

    • Blazer

       /  February 19, 2018

      arise Sir Peter Talley…National have a knighthood for NZ’s Mr Fishy business’!

  3. Zedd

     /  February 19, 2018

    I saw a doco. that said ‘we are expecting the earth to be an unlimited stock or resources’ BUT the reality is the opposite. The earth is not getting any bigger, but the population is.. Apathy is NOT the solution 😦

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 19, 2018

    Property rights vs socialist fascism. As usual the former is the solution and the latter is the problem.

    • Gezza

       /  February 19, 2018

      How is this slogan relevant to the issue in PG’s post? Exactly?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 19, 2018

        The EU bureaucracy mismanages the northern Atlantic. The bloody shambles is described here:

        The southern Atlantic is mismanaged by another toothless bureaucracy chaired by Japan and South Korea. A bunch of pirates pretending to conserve while hell-bent on robbing each other.

        • Gezza

           /  February 19, 2018

          Aren’t private companies doing the fishing?

          What property rights are you talking about & who has or should have them & how do property rights fix this situation?

          Are you suggesting for example someone like Trump should personally buy & own the fishery off the US coasts?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  February 19, 2018

            Property rights either national or private seem to be the only solution to efficient resource management. NZ’s quota system has some major problems mostly due to being managed by political influences rather than commercial imperatives.

            • Gezza

               /  February 19, 2018

              In the wiki link above it notes

              “The Common Fisheries Policy has been argued by certain commentators to have had disastrous consequences for the environment.[11][12] This view is contradicted by historical evidence revealing that fishing stocks have been in chronic decline over the last century as a result of intensive trawl fishing.[13]

              According to scientific research published in 2010, the depletion of fishing stocks is a consequence of mismanagement long before the Common Fisheries Policy came into being, a statement illustrated by the fact that British catches have declined by 94% over the last 118 years.[14] Nonetheless, the Common Fisheries Policy has continued the trend of ineffective fisheries management in European waters. Indeed, the Common Fisheries Policy has done little if anything to reverse the decline of European fish stocks.[15]

              The common fisheries policy has been criticised by some fishermen who believe it is threatening their livelihoods.[13]”

              I wonder if we’re going to end up seeing a return to the Trawler Wars where countries & their navies get into fights at sea over who has access to the same traditionally fished fishing grounds.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 19, 2018

              The main difficulty with fishery management is the migratory/territorial division for species. A territorial species would be best managed by a territorial property right but a migratory species requires a species property right which then conflicts with other species and territorial rights via by-catch issues and management across national and international boundaries becomes conflicted and fraught.

            • Gezza

               /  February 19, 2018

              Yes. Alternatively private companies could be allowed to fish them all into extinction & there’d be no need for any arguments then. Although personally I don’t like this idea much. But it seems to be working well for those companies that do like it.

            • Gezza

               /  February 19, 2018

              A good variety of tasty species of fresh & frozen fish in Welly’s still cheaper than any similar sized cuts of lamb, Alan, thank goodness. I eat plenty of fish thru the week. How do prices & supply compare up there?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 20, 2018

              private companies could be allowed to fish them all into extinction

              That’s pretty much what is happening under Government ownership in most fisheries, Gezza. Better to sell the whole fishery to a private owner and let them manage it and auction or sell quota. And pay the Government for enforcement services or contract them elsewhere.