By Stephen Leahy
Mar 5 (IPS) – Two-thirds of fish stocks in the world’s high seas are overfished, while most of those closer to shore are failing or fished to the maximum, a new U.N. report said Monday.
More and stronger regional fisheries management organisations are needed to rebuild depleted stocks and prevent the collapse of other stocks, warned the FAO’s latest “State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture” (SOFIA) report.
Ocean fisheries have “most likely” reached their zenith, said FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries Ichiro Nomura.
In fact, that peak may have been reached some time ago. The annual world fish catch since the late 1980s has been stalled at between 85 million and 95 million tonnes. The SOFIA 2006 report records marine fisheries catch at 85.8 millions tonnes and notes that 25 percent of marine stocks are overexploited or depleted while 52 percent are “fully exploited”.
In the open ocean, where the deep-sea trawlers roam unrestricted, stocks of hakes, Atlantic cod, halibut, orange roughy, bluefin tuna and sharks are all in deep trouble. “They (open ocean species) are key indicators of the state of a massive piece of the ocean ecosystem,” said Nomura in a statement.
In recent years, numerous scientific studies of the oceans have clearly indicated they are in trouble. A major study published last fall in Science magazine projected that every commercial fishery in the world will be wiped out before 2050 and that the oceans may never recover without significant reform of the fisheries industry.
A month later, U.N. talks failed to establish a moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling, widely acknowledged as wasteful and damaging to ocean bottom ecosystems.
In February, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada calculated that these trawlers receive 152 million dollars a year in fuel and other subsidies. Without these subsidies, the few hundred ships that make up the global deep-sea trawler fleet would actually lose millions of dollars a year, said Rashid Sumaila, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.
Japan, South Korea, Spain, Australia and Russia are the five largest payers of such subsidies, Sumaila said in an interview.
For complete story see Ocean Fisheries Maxed Out
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