Blog Tags: Overfishing
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week Oceana launched a new bluefin tuna PSA campaign featuring “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier. In March, Grenier joined Oceana to swim with the endangered fish and help get the word out that they are “going fast” -- literally and figuratively.
Bluefin can grow to 15 feet in length, weigh up to 1500 pounds and can swim at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour. They are on the verge of extinction as a result of overfishing, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico further threatens their survival.
The Gulf is the only place where the Western population of Atlantic bluefin tuna reproduces. After the spawning season (April to June), baby tuna continue to swim through the Gulf region where they can accumulate toxins in their gills from the oil itself and from the chemical dispersants.
“I hope that my involvement will bring attention to what is going on in the bluefin fishery,” Grenier said. “I want these PSAs to encourage people to get involved and help Oceana save these amazing creatures.”
Watch the PSA and get involved with Adrian and Oceana to protect bluefin!
As I told you recently, I had the pleasure of participating in the TED Mission Blue voyage to the Galapagos Islands, led by legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle. I was one of seven “idea champions” on board, and this was my idea: We can tackle the problem of overfishing by curbing fishing subsidies.
Although 75 percent of the world's fisheries are now either overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation, many governments continue to provide huge subsidies -- about $20 billion annually -- to their fishing sectors.
The fleets are fishing at a level that’s as much as 2.5 times more than what’s required for sustainable catch levels.
I feel strongly that halting fishing subsidies is one of the single greatest actions that can be taken to protect the world’s oceans. And I was hoping others on board would agree with me. Canvassing on the ship with a clipboard and a pencil, I felt like I was back in school, collecting signatures in the cafeteria.
And it worked.
A very happy birthday to E, the Environmental Magazine, which recently turned 20 years old. A lot has happened in the environmental world in those two decades, and a lot has also stayed the same.
This excerpt of their article retrospective brings to mind some all-too-familiar ocean threats. (Oh, and thanks for the shout-out):
"A fish in a net was the cover model for E’s July/August 1996 feature on overfishing. With the headline “Vacuuming the Sea,” the article reported that 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks had been heavily exploited.
Hirshfield says, “The scientific consensus is unless we change how we manage our fish, we’re looking at potential collapses around the world later this century... It might only be a slight exaggeration to say that in 2100, unless we change how we manage our oceans, all we’ll have left is jellyfish.”
Stay tuned for more Copenhagen updates as the conference progresses.
To the surprise of no one, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) failed again this year to adequately protect Atlantic bluefin tuna. Last week, ICCAT met in Brazil to set the 2010 quotas for the critically endangered bluefin tuna, and several of Oceana's scientists and campaigners were present.
Here he is talking with host Terry Gross about orange roughy:
GROSS: But I have to say the fish that you mentioned, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, monkfish, they're very tasty.
Prof. PAULY: Oh, no problem with that. In fact, the flesh of very old animal in the water is strangely - is firm and it's white, beautiful fillet. And it's richly fat. Yeah, this is good fish. The problem is that this fish are long-lived. If you take orange roughy, they reach up to 150 years. And they...
GROSS: Wow, really?
Prof. PAULY: ...yeah. The oldest has been aged that old. And they mature at 30 years.
GROSS: Wait, wait. I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. You mean, each fish lives 150 years?
Prof. PAULY: The one that survive can live up to 150 years. And they become mature, they become adult at 30 years, older than us, twice older than us. So you are eating something that is older than your grandmother when you're eating one.
- CEO Note: State Shark Fin Bans Protected Posted Wed, March 5, 2014
- Miranda Cosgrove Stars in New Oceana PSA to Save Dolphins Posted Wed, March 5, 2014
- The Economist’s Arctic Summit Convenes in London Posted Thu, March 6, 2014
- CEO Note: Seismic Airguns Threaten the Atlantic Posted Tue, March 11, 2014