Enjoy Seafood While You Can: Commercial Fisheries Likely to Collapse by 2048
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Dr. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada warns that the oceans are quickly losing biodiversity and that nearly 30 percent of seafood species that humans consume are already too small to harvest. If the long-term trend continues, there will be little or no seafood available for a sustainable harvest by 2048.
Dr. Worm's study was recently published in the journal Science and is an update of a study that was published in 2006. Importantly, the study is of the collapse of commercial catches, not species extinction. Catch collapse means that fish are caught at 10 percent or less of the rate they had been caught historically. Several media outlets have incorrectly stated that the study warns that all seafood will be gone from the ocean. CBS News, for example, reported that "the apocalypse has a new date: 2048" and that the oceans would be empty of fish at that time. To our knowledge, the television network has not issued a retraction.
"We never said that," says Dr. Worm. “We never talked about extinction. We talked about the collapse of the commercial catches."
Still, Worm and his international team of scientists and economists say that catch collapses still paint a grim picture for the ocean and for human health. The accelerated loss of biodiversity, they say, is imperiled by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss and climate change. Saltwater ecosystems, including human populations that depend on them for survival, can be adversely affected by dwindling populations. Harmful algae blooms, coastal flooding and poor water quality can be the results of reduced fish populations.
"Biodiversity is a finite resource, and we are going to end up with nothing left ... if nothing changes," says Worm.
The updated study points out that it's not too late to change, however. Areas can be managed for improved biodiversity and recovery is possible, says the study. In areas of the world where action has been taken to protect marine species, there have been notably positive results.
The problem is already affecting the U.S. seafood industry. Scientists are urging a moratorium on cold water shrimp harvesting in the Gulf of Maine as rising ocean temperatures are threatening populations of the tiny crustacean. This is the second straight season that researchers have urged that the netting of northern shrimp be halted.
The northern shrimp catch in Maine has been falling in recent years, as it has in neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts. However, it is estimated that some 85-90 percent of the northern shrimp caught in the Gulf of Maine are brought in by Maine boats. In 2010, more than 12 million pounds were caught by them, but it has declined by a factor of 14; less than 600,000 pounds were caught last year, according to the state of Maine.
The shrimp harvest averaged some 25 million pounds a year from 1969 to 1972 before falling below one million pounds in 1977. Those involved in the regional fishing industry are noticing a sharp decline in the population and are worried. Glen Libby, a shrimp processor and former fisherman, told the Portland Press Herald that the 2013 season was a bust and fishermen are finding few shrimp in their nets over the summer. He said it “probably is a good idea to give the fishery time to recover."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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