The Beacon

Blog Tags: Overfishing

Oceana Hosts WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy and Oceana's senior vice president for North America, Mike Hirshfield. © Oceana/Michael King

Oceana welcomed a very distinguished visitor yesterday. We hosted the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, along with representatives of 10 major U.S. environmental organizations in a roundtable discussion at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. The roundtable focused on promoting an open and active dialogue about trade and the environment and the WTO’s ability to address both.

The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha Round. These negotiations are historic because they are the first time that conservation considerations, in addition to commerce priorities, have led to the launch of a specific trade negotiation.

Fishing subsidies promote overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be economically feasible. Overfishing subsidies are estimated to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equal to approximately 25 percent of the value of the world catch.


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UN Report: No Improvement in Global Overfishing

The world’s appetite for fish continues to grow. Fish stocks, though? Not so much. 

That’s the bottom line from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which released its latest State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture report yesterday. Global per capita consumption of fish reached a "new all-time high" in 2008.

Here are some of the facts from the report:

  • Fish consumption increased to an estimated 17.1 kilograms per person in 2008, up from 16.9 kilograms in 2007.
  • Fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540 million people, roughly 8 percent of the world's population.
  • Much of the increase is due to fish farming, which is set to overtake fisheries as the main source of seafood.
  • In the early 1950s, aquaculture production was less than one million tonnes per year; in 2008 it was 52.5 million tonnes worth $98.4 billion US, the report authors said.
  • There has been no improvement in the level of global fish stocks -- the overall percentage of overfished, depleted or recovering stocks is expected to be slightly higher than in 2006.
  • Slightly more than half of the world's fisheries were estimated to be "fully exploited," meaning their current catches are "at or close to their maximum sustainable productions, with no room for further expansion."
  • About 32 per cent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering and need to be rebuilt, the report said.

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As ICCAT Begins, Bluefin Hangs in the Balance

Yesterday the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) began in Paris, France. Oceana is in Paris with this simple message for the ICCAT delegates: Restore depleted bluefin tuna and shark populations.

Oceana’s chief scientist and head-of-delegation Dr. Michael Hirshfield had this to say as the meeting commenced:

“We can not continue to let the demand for sharks and bluefin tuna drive these populations toward extinction. Immediate and proper international management is needed now or we will empty the oceans of these top predators and vastly change the oceans as we know them today… Oceana hopes the next ten days are not wasted playing ‘politics.’ The science is clear and it is time to get to work.”

And you can help us put the pressure on -- tell the US and EU delegates at ICCAT to increase protections for sharks and bluefin tuna!

For more info about ICCAT, bluefin tuna, sharks, swordfish and sea turtles, and for downloadable images, check out http://oceana.org/ICCAT. We’ll keep you posted as the meeting goes on.


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Tuna-fy Yourself!

Spanish singer Miguel Bose, bluefin tuna-fied.

If you thought bluefin tuna were just another faceless fish, you thought wrong. Not only are they some of the fastest and most impressive predators in the ocean, they are also in serious trouble from overfishing.

In a few weeks, the world will have a chance to change bluefin’s fate, and we are asking you all to spread the word – by putting your face on this threatened fish. How, you ask? Well, our colleagues in Europe just launched a website, www.stoptunablues.org, where you can do just that.

From November 17-27th, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will meet in Paris. ICCAT is an international body responsible for the conservation and management of bluefin, and Oceana will be in Paris to pressure the Commission to do more to protect bluefin.  

Bluefin may not be as cuddly as panda bears, but you are – so help us save bluefin by offering your (incredibly attractive) likeness to the cause, and then spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and any other way you want!


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A Stimulus Package for the Oceans: Deconstruction

This is the second in a series of four guest posts by Paul Greenberg, author of the bestselling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing James Prosek's excellent Eels for the New York Times Book Review.  An endlessly interesting topic but most relevant for today's oceanic fisheries because of the unseen (and largely fixable) problem eels represent: the useless damming of small rivers around the country and around the world. 

Rivers are key to oceans: they allow for energy transfer between freshwater ecosystems and saltwater, and the primary way they do that is through "diadromous" i.e. sea run fish like salmon, herring, shad, and yes, eels.


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Chile Reduces Jack Mackerel Overfishing

A Chilean purse seiner catches jack mackerel. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

Our Chilean colleagues are really on a roll lately. Adding to their recent victories in Sala y Gomez and Punta de Choros, last week the Chilean government announced a drastic reduction in the fishing quota for jack mackerel and other fisheries, starting in 2011.

The triumph against overfishing comes after Oceana sent the Minister of Economy a report analyzing the annual quota set for jack mackerel during the past 10 years. The study, put together with data that Oceana obtained through Chile’s Freedom of Information Act, shows that between 2003 and 2010 the National Fisheries Council set the annual quota for jack mackerel at higher catch limits than was recommended by the Institute for Fisheries Development. In fact, in 2009 the quota was 87 percent higher than what was recommended by the agency.

As a result, the Minister of Economy went to a session of the National Fisheries Council to express his frustration, and in an unprecedented event, he asked them to set smaller quotas for next year. 

 Another hard-earned victory for Oceana Chile and the oceans!


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New Study Measures Nations’ ‘SeafoodPrint’

You knew the U.S. had a massive carbon footprint, but did you know we also have the world’s third largest “SeafoodPrint?”

That’s according to a study published today in National Geographic led by Oceana board member and fisheries expert Dr. Daniel Pauly and National Geographic fellow Enric Sala.

How do you measure the "SeafoodPrint" of a country, you ask? By factoring in the type of fish and the total amount hauled in. The researchers used a unit of measurement based on "primary production," the microscopic organisms at the bottom of the marine food web that are required to make a pound of a given type of fish.

China comes in at the number one spot because of its sheer population size, while Peru is ranked second because its anchoveta becomes fish meal for farm-raised pigs, chickens and fish (such as salmon) around the world, even though Peruvians themselves don’t consume a lot of fish. Meanwhile, the U.S. is ranked third because of the type of fish we generally prefer -- top-of-the-food-chain fish, such as tuna and salmon.


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Whole Foods Adopts Seafood Rating System

© Oceana/Emily Fisher

As you’ve probably heard, Whole Foods Market announced last week that it is partnering with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and Blue Ocean Institute to label all the wild-caught seafood in its North American stores according to their sustainability criteria.

A green label means the fish is relatively abundant and the fishing method causes little damage, yellow indicates that some problems exist with abundance or fishing method, and red means the fish is overfished or the fishing method seriously harms other wildlife or natural habitats. The company has also pledged to eliminate all red-list seafood by Earth Day 2013.

I wanted to see this new rating system for myself, so I headed to the nearest Whole Foods store around lunchtime yesterday. In addition to having a mercury warning clearly posted, the seafood counter’s new stoplight-color rating system appeared prominent and easy to understand.


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Oceana Hosts WTO Forum on Fishing Subsidies

From left: Oceana's Courtney Sakai, Dr. Rainer Froese, Dr. Anthony Charles and U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Peter Allgeier

On Friday Oceana hosted a panel discussion at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum in Geneva. The session focused on global fisheries depletion and how the WTO can contribute to solving global environmental challenges.

During the session, moderated by former U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Peter Allgeier, leading international fisheries scientists Dr. Rainer Froese and Dr. Anthony Charles discussed the implications of global environmental issues on the multilateral trading system and the role and responsibility of the WTO to help stop overfishing.


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Ted Danson to Testify on Fishing Subsidies

Actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson will testify before a Congressional subcommittee hearing tomorrow about the negative impact of fishing subsidies on the oceans.

In the hearing, entitled Marine Wealth: Promoting Conservation and Advancing American Exports, Danson will describe how government subsidies negatively affect the oceans and global seafood market, and he’ll explain why sustainable fishing is necessary to preserve ocean health and jobs.


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