The Problem With Overfishing

This video is a call to attention on the irresponsible ways in which we exploit the ocean. Legal overfishing, plus the staggering amount of illegal fish harvesting that goes on each year (an estimated US$ 23 Million in illegal captures alone), are putting marine ecosystems at risk. Will the ocean be teeming with life when our children are our age?

Between Thorn Bushes and Claws

Despite an increased awareness of overfishing, the majority of people still know very little about the scale of the destruction being wrought on the oceans. This film presents an unquestionable case for why overfishing needs to end and shows that there is still an opportunity for change. Through reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, fisheries ministers and members of the European Parliament, MEPs, can end overfishing. But only if you pressure them, October 23rd, ask MEPs to …


View original post

Big fishing nations that won’t stop overfishing

A recent Guardian article exposes some of the figures behind industrial tuna fishing in the pacific.

The article says that the US, China, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan are responsible for 80% of bigeye tuna caught each year. The remaining 20% is captured by vessels flagged to smaller fishing nations. Some of the smallest nations depend on their fisheries for basic survival.

In 2012, 2.6m tonnes of tuna were extracted from the Pacific – 60% of the global total. Scientists are in agreement that tuna is being overfished at an alarming rate. Some species are practically on the brink, with bluefin tuna populations being currently just 4% of what they were before industrial fishing commenced.

Yet, the organisation that has been entrusted by the international community to be the steward of tuna fisheries in the Pacific ocean, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, has failed to protect the fish for yet another year.

In spite of clear scientific advice regarding the need to reduce tuna quotas, the large fishing nations that currently haul the most, have point-blank refused to reduce their quota. Small Pacific nations have pointlessly warned of the consequences of overfishing – the big boys won’t budge.

What kind of priorities drive this irresponsible behaviour by fishing nations and those behind their commercial interests?

There is much short-term profit to be made in fisheries and the lack of regulation and enforcement in waters under the stewardship of international management organisations like the above mentioned Commission means that, in the eyes of many, if they don’t take the fish then others will come in to take it in their place.

It looks like, unless a radical change in attitude and innovative approaches to the governance and regulation of international fisheries, we may be headed for a marine version of the tragedy of the commons.

International policy actors are now more than ever before actively looking for solutions. The Global Oceans Commission has issued a call for ideas and possible solutions for the (so far) intractable problems of overfishing, illegal fishing and the governance of ocean resources. Anyone with views and ideas should contact the GOC via this link:


Bearing Witness: Clear waters and no fish

I recently travelled to norther Sicily, and hopped over to the Eolic Islands, where the diving was rumoured to be good. First impressions in Milazzo we mixed: the town seems nice enough, though there seemed to be a bizarre shortage of restaurants and an abundance of ice-cream parlours. Multiple fishing vessels came to shore at night, many sporting monofilament nets. Local fishermen (no fisherwomen anywhere) seemed to carry an abundance of small tuna-like fish in their iceboxes.

Next day, Stromboli didn’t disappoint. Black volcano ash masquerading as beach sand, calm blue mediterranean waters and the midday sun welcomed us on arrival. Stromboli was grumbling with rock and smoking away into the night, when we watch it erupt in fireworks.

Strombolicchio was the diving site of choice in the morning. The beautiful little island is surrounded by a small marine reserve, at least in theory. Before immersion we passed 5 gill net suspension buoys, some only a metre away from the vertical cliff walls. Immersion was good, the water warm and clean. The coral and anything living in the rock was a delight, the current fun and the rock wall a marvel. Fish larger than my thumb could only be glimpsed below 37 metres (how long are those gill nets?).

No fish in Strombolian waters for divers to see, then. Just plenty of fishing nets.

The Strombolicchio near Stromboli Island in So...

The Strombolicchio near Stromboli Island in Southern Italy (Eolie) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)