The following statement responds to findings in "Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services" by B. Worm et al., published in Science, Friday, November 3, 2006.
Statement of Michael F. Hirshfield, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Oceana
"The next two decades will decide the fate of our oceans, but trend is not necessarily destiny. The authors make it clear that we still have time to change course and their prescription is straightforward--we need to fish less and more carefully. We need to protect the habitat species on the ocean floor from destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling. We also need to make sure that fishermen fish more cleanly, so they don't kill and discard species that they don't want to catch.
At the same time, the world needs to stop paying fishermen to destroy the oceans. Global subsidies have recently been estimated at over $30 billion per year, over a quarter of the value of the global catch. Eliminating subsidies would be the single biggest step we could take to address the looming crisis described in this paper.
This paper is the latest confirmation that our oceans are in deep trouble, approaching a state of irreversible collapse. It shows you can't have healthy fisheries unless there are healthy biological communities supporting them. Healthy habitats and a diversity of prey species are critical to the fish species we target."