Global Fish Stocks Depleted to 'Alarming' Levels
A growing appetite for seafood is not a good sign for life beneath the waves
If we keep pulling fish out of our waterways at this rate, we're going to run out of fish. The Guardian has revealed that due to vast overfishing, nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished, based on a new analysis from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development forecasts a 17 percent rise in fish production by 2025.
[email protected] places overfished and fully-fished stocks at 89.05% in 2016 https://t.co/9C6Xe11pzP https://t.co/MVtjSr35Fp— Oceana (@Oceana)1467991805.0
The FAO report,The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016, demonstrates that global fish consumption per capita has reached record-high levels due to aquaculture and firm demand, with the average person now eating roughly 44 pounds of fish per year compared to only 22 pounds in the 1960s.
Additionally, the report found that people are now consuming more farmed fish than wild-caught fish for the first time. Despite this, UN agency warns that fish from natural marine resources are still being overharvested at biologically unsustainable levels. Global marine fish stocks have not improved overall despite notable progress in some areas, the report said.
For instance, in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, 59 percent of assessed stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels, a situation that the report's authors described as "alarming." Not only that, the possible expansion of invasive fish species associated to climate change is a concern in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In fact, as EcoWatch reported, a number of worrying factors are threatening the long term sustainability of the ocean's resources in addition to overfishing. The report, Valuing the Ocean from Stockholm Environment Institute, examined the various challenges that threaten the health and stability of our ocean, including acidification, warming, hypoxia, sea level rise, pollution and the overuse of marine resources.
Oceana, an international ocean conservation and advocacy organization, "regrets" the new FAO study. The group pointed out from the report that overfished and fully-fished stocks are at 89.5 percent in 2016 compared to around 62-68 percent in 2000.
"We now have a fifth more of global fish stocks at worrying levels than we did in 2000. The global environmental impact of overfishing is incalculable and the knock-on impact for coastal economies is simply too great for this to be swept under the rug any more," Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe, said.
The Guardian noted that aquaculture, which is poised to overtake wild-caught fish as the source of most fish consumption in 2021, is a major industry that benefits trade, employment and diets in the developing world.
The countries that rely heavily on fish protein: mostly poor. https://t.co/sWjBMPqWq2 https://t.co/P4JjEyllSu— Trevor A. Branch (@Trevor A. Branch)1467917706.0
According to the FAO report, fish provided 6.7 percent of all protein consumed by humans around the world and offers a rich source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, calcium, zinc and iron. Some 57 million people were engaged in the primary fish production sectors, a third of them in aquaculture.
"There is an absolute limit to what we can extract from the sea and it is possibly very close to current production levels, which have stabilized over last few years," Manuel Barange, the UN FAO's fisheries director, told the publication. "They have grown a little in recent years but we don't expect much more growth because of the rampant increase in aquaculture production."
"My personal view is that it is quite momentous to have reached this level of production," Barange added. "In the struggle to make sure we have enough food to feed more than 9 billion people in 2050, any source of nutrients and micronutrients is welcome."
Barange also told BBC News that fisheries have a much smaller footprint than other main sources of animal protein.
"Fish is six times more efficient at converting feed than cattle, and four times more efficient than pork. Therefore increasing the consumption of fish is good for food security," he said.
Oceana, however, said that aquaculture is not the solution to meet the increasing global demand for fish; we must address the unsustainable exploitation of wild fish first.
"The figures speak for themselves. Overfishing will knock wild, everyday fish from our dining tables replacing it with aquaculture and other seafood. Only through sustainable fisheries management and by ending overfishing will we really able to increase fish in our oceans and ensure seafood can be put on a plate for millions of people," Gustavsson explained.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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