Oct 10, 2011 News
– Oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests
Fishing is central to the livelihood and food security of 200 million people, especially in the developing world, however, marine scientists say if the loss of marine species from over fishing and climate change continues at the current rate, all commercial fish and seafood species could collapse by 2048, according to United Nations (UN) agencies.
Over-fishing occurs when fish and other marine species are caught at a rate faster than they can reproduce.
According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN estimate, over 70 per cent of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted, while oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests.
According to reports, the world’s oceans are potentially on the verge of irreversible catastrophic collapse. Due to global warming and other factors, the marine ecosystems are being severely compromised.
However, while statistics reveal one in five people on this planet depends on fish as the primary source of protein, the UN agencies noted that, aquaculture – the farming and stocking of aquatic organisms including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants – is growing more rapidly than all other animal food producing sectors.
But amid facts and figures about aquaculture’s soaring worldwide production rates, other, more sobering, statistics reveal that global main marine fish stocks are in jeopardy, increasingly pressured by over fishing and environmental degradation.
Overfishing was noted as a severe factor of the depletion of fishes, which in turn poses a major threat to the food supply of millions of people.
According to UN research, the magnitude of the problem of over fishing is often overlooked, given the competing claims of deforestation, desertification, energy resource exploitation and other biodiversity depletion dilemmas.
The rapid growth in demand for fish and fish products is leading to fish prices increasing faster than prices of meat. As a result, fisheries investments have become more attractive to both entrepreneurs and governments, much to the detriment of small-scale fishing and fishing communities all over the world.
It was further noted that in the last decade, in the north Atlantic region, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95 per cent, prompting calls for urgent measures.
Some are even recommending zero catches to allow for regeneration of stocks, much to the ire of the fishing industry.
According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the dramatic increase of destructive fishing techniques worldwide destroys marine mammals and entire ecosystems.
FAO reports that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide appears to be increasing as fishermen seek to avoid stricter rules in many places in response to shrinking catches and declining fish stocks.
Some 108 governments and the European Commission have adopted the UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities, oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests.
The Johannesburg forum stressed the importance of restoring depleted fisheries and acknowledged that sustainable fishing requires partnerships by and between governments, fishermen, communities and industry. It urged countries to ratify the Convention on the Law of the Sea and other instruments that promote maritime safety and protect the environment from marine pollution and environmental damage by ships.
Only a multilateral approach can counterbalance the rate of depletion of the world’s fisheries which has increased more than four times in the past 40 years. Despite its crucial importance for the survival of humanity, marine biodiversity is in ever-greater danger, with the depletion of fisheries among biggest concerns.
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