In 40 Years We Could Face An Ocean Without Fish


Overfishing is pushing marine life to the brink of collapse.

In fact, in 40 years we could face an ocean without fish, Newsweek said last month.  

For perspective, in 1950, the total catch of fish in the ocean was at 18.5 million metric tons. Just half a century later that number spiked to 73.5 million metric tons, an increase of nearly 400 per cent. Since then, as many as 90 per cent of the ocean’s large fish have been fished out, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

A mind-boggling 90 species of fish have been dangerously depleted off the shores of the U.S. alone. 

The rapid depletion of our global fish supply and permanent damage to the ecosystem is documented in Rupert Murray’s 2009 film, “The End of the Line.”

In honour of World Oceans Day tomorrow, we’ve pulled out the highlights.  

There were once plenty of fish in the sea, but a rash of overfishing has put many populations at serious risk.

In 1992, the codfish population in Newfoundland, Canada was so depleted due to overfishing that the government banned fishing for two years.

40,000 fisherman were immediately out of work, an unfortunate result of decades of overfishing in the region.

In 2001, scientists began to investigate how much overfishing has affected ecosystems around the world.

They found that in China, the Communist government were fudging the fishing numbers to make it look like their catches were increasing. Because of the rapidly declining fish population, China's catches were actually decreasing each year.

Numerous fish populations around the world have been overfished to the verge of extinction, including the snowy grouper.

A lot of this overfishing is boosted by the huge boats and modern technology employed to catch these fish. The largest fishing net can hold the equivalent of 13 747 jets. Imagine how many fish that can hold!

Boats have the latest radar and other technologies to make sure that no fish has a fair chance to escape.

One of the species affected the most if the bluefin tuna, which has become an in-demand delicacy around the world as sushi becomes more prevalent.

Governments aren't helping. In 2007, the EU recommended that 29,500 tons of bluefin tuns be caught in the Mediterranean. That's two to three times the amount that scientists recommended to sustain the bluefin population.

Surprisingly, Mitsubishi buys 60 per cent of the bluefin population and isn't really concerned about the species' extinction.

There's speculation that the company is freezing a good percentage of its catch to make sure they have the only supply of bluefin when the ocean population becomes nonexistent.

Unless conditions improve, we could be without fish in the ocean by 2049.

But things are now beginning to change. Companies are now only buying fish that were caught at sustainable levels, to preserve and grow the aquatic life we still have.

McDonald's says that 90 per cent of its fish is caught sustainably, a significant step forward.

If fishing stays on the road of responsibility and sustainability, we can preserve the ocean population for generations to come.

One fish species is really on the brink...

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