More than 1 billion people depend on fish as a source of food. When the fish are gone, it will be very difficult to find a new source of food for those regions Massive industry - Fresh and Frozen Seafood Processing Industry's Revenue for the Year 2009 Was Approximately $10.5 Billion in the US alone, with an Estimated Gross Profit of 33.3% Worldwide, The fishing industry is a $70 billion dollar a year industry that consists of over 37,000 industrial ships, and employs over a million people world wide, and that’s just officially ( http://www7.taosnet.com/platinum/data/whatis/capture.html ) 2 ways in which the seafood industry harvests its catch: wild caught and farm-raised. Both have their own related issues
No area of the ocean remains unaffected by human activity
The first issue with Wild Caught seafood: Marine biologists Boris Worm and Ray Hilborn predicted in Science magazine in July 2009 that by the year 2048, world food fisheries would completely collapse. Additional research confirms this hypothesis, and adds that the crises can be avoided is overfishing is stopped. Reason for this overfishing? technology Populations driven so low in the past several decades that recovery, when possible, is a long-term process
Overfishing has visible drastic effect. Most commercial fish populations are well below natural levels. In just the past decade, Atlantic populations of halibut, bluefin tuna, swordfish, haddock and yellowtail flounder all joined this list of species at all-time lows. The cod fishery, once a backbone of the North Atlantic economy, collapsed completely in the early 1990s due to overfishing. The breeding population of Atlantic bluefin tuna has been declining steeply and may disappear completely in a few years without significant, immediate management changes The global fishing fleets are 250% larger than the oceans can sustainably support.- WWF , china has by far the biggest fleet In 2002 72% of the world’s marine fish stocks were being harvested faster than they can reproduce. According to the UNFAO, about 70% of our global fisheries are now being fished close to, already at, or beyond their capacity. - The Earth's Carrying Capacity - Bruce Sundquist 1% of the world's Industrial fishing fleets account for 50% of the world's catches. – CNN
As fisheries continue to collapse, demand has continued to rise, to about 110 tons in 2006—over eight times what it was in 1950. It's estimated that by 2030, the world will need an additional 37 million tons of farmed fish per year to maintain current levels of consumption. The global catch of wild fish leveled off over 20 years ago
Large predatory fish populations, such as tuna, swordfish, and sharks, have been reduced to just 10% of their original size. 100 million sharks are killed every year) (Fifteen species of sharks have seen their numbers drop by 50 per cent in the last 20 years. - National Geographic) Rockfish, a west coast species that can live to be over 100 years old, were severely depleted by years of overfishing. Emergency closure of the fishery is a step in the right direction, but it will be decades before these long-lived fish begin to recover.”
up to three metres in length and can weigh more than 450 kg. bluefin are especially endangered today Over the past 50 years World consumption of tuna has increased tenfold, from 0.4 million to over 4 million tonnes. - Environmental Justice Foundation
last 30 years from high-level predators such as tuna and cod, to species lower in the food web, like crabs, sardines and squid. Since these species are important prey for other fish as well as seabirds and marine mammals, their removal impacts species throughout the ecosystem. Known as &quot;fishing down the food web,&quot; this trend can spell trouble for the remaining high-level fish, who find increased competition for preferred prey. ” As top predators are removed by fishing, fishers target smaller fish lower in the food web, reducing their numbers. This reduces the average trophic level of the food web. Trophic levels are based on the food eaten at that level. Level 1 includes phytoplankton, level 2 includes zooplankton, level 3 includes bait fish, etc.
EX: “Chilean seabass have been particularly affected by pirate fishing. Slow-growing fish that breed late in life, they are naturally vulnerable to overfishing. Unfortunately, poaching is rampant, especially in remote Antarctic waters where law enforcement is difficult. Eleven nations have been identified as trafficking illegal Chilean seabass, and it's currently on the Seafood Watch &quot;Avoid&quot; list.” Shark finning is illegal in over 100 nations, yet this wasteful practice continues to exist and threaten worldwide shark populations to meet demand for “delicacies” such as shark fin soup Only 0.6 per cent of the worlds oceans are designated as protected.- WWF Legislation - Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has developed standards for sustainably managed and traceable wildcaught seafood. The number of fisheries that meet MSC eco-label standards has steadily increased. Today, 51 fisheries are MSC-certified, representing more than 3.8 million tons of seafood with an estimated retail value of nearly $1 billion. Additionally, 112 fisheries are engaged in the assessment process to become MSC-certified.”
Bottom trawling and dredging are the worst fishing practices, pole/trolling and traps and pots are better Pole/Troll Pole and bait used to specifically target fish. Ranges from pelagic species (tuna, mahi mahi) to bottom dwellers (cod). Environmentally responsible. Good alternative to pelagic longlining. Very low bycatch rates. Purse Seining Uses large wall of netting to encircle a school of fish, pulled close to herd fish into center. Used to catch schooling/spawning fish (sardines/squid). Many types of purse seines, and some can catch untargeted animals such as dolphins Gillnetting Uses curtains of netting suspended by floats and weights, either anchored to sea floor or floating. Netting is almost invisible to fish. Used to catch sardines, salmon, and cod, but can entangle and kill other animals such as sharks and turtles Longlining Central fishing line ranging from 1-50 miles long, strung with series of smaller lines with baited hooks at the end in spaced intervals. Can be used at any depth to catch pelagic species (tuna, swordfish) or bottom dwellers (cod, halibut). Many of these lines hook seaturtles, sharks, and seabirds. Bycatch can be reduced by sinking the lines deeper or by using different hooks. Trawls and Dredges Nets towed behind the boat at various depths. Trawl nets can be the size of football fields and can be dragged along the seafloor or midwater. Used to catch Pollock, cod, flounder, shrimp. High levels of bycatch with bottom trawling especially. Dredging uses a heavy frame with a mesh bag along the sea floor and is used to catch scallops, clams, and oysters. This damages the ocean floor AND has significant bycatch. Traps and Pots Submerged cages with bait. Used to catch lobsters, crabs, shrimp, sablefish, and Pacific cod. Generally have low bycatch and less seafloor degradation as they generally do not move. Harpooning More traditional, but still used today by some skilled fishermen. Used to catch large, pelagic predators such as bluefin tuna and swordfish. Although the targeted species are not sustainable, the practice itself IS. No bycatch as the species is ID’d and then killed. Trolling Hook and line method, boat tows fishing lines with a variety of baits/lures at different depths. Used to catch salmon, mahi mahi, and albacore tuna. Environmentally sustainable – fishermen quickly release unwanted catch as lines are reeled in when fish takes the bait (unlike longlining) “ In 2003 California replaced spot prawn trawls with traps, reducing seafloor damage and helping the state's rockfish population recover. In general, traps and pots cause less seafloor damage and catch fewer unintended species than other types of fishing gear.” “ In Alaskan waters alone, bottom trawls remove over one million pounds of deep water corals and sponges from the sea floor each year. In many areas, marine life and seafloor communities have no chance to recover—parts of the North Sea off Denmark are trawled up to 400 times a year! ”
Each method has its pros and cons. On the left, more species specific with less damage to ocean On the right, less species specific so high bycatch
Bottom trawling is the worst practice for ocean habitat damage A single pass of bottom trawl removes up to 20% of the seafloor fauna and flora Bottom trawling has the same devastating impact on the oceans bottom as clearcutting forests has on the earth’s surface Bottom trawlers target slow-growing and long-lived species such as the orange roughy
The most environmentally sustainable fishing methods also happen to be some of the least used
Bycatch accounts for a ¼ of the total catch (27m tonnes in 2003), and much of it is waste. Every year, over 16 million pounds of fish are wasted. Shrimp fishery is worst: For every 1 pound of shrimp killed, 5-10 pounds of marine life are unintentionally killed Most bycatch is caused by non species specific fishing gear, such as longlines or bottom trawls. “Longlines have baited hooks and can extend for 50 miles or more. When cast out and left to &quot;soak,&quot; longlines attract anything that swims by, from sharks to sea turtles. Bottom trawls drag nets across the seafloor, catching everything in their paths.”. Good gear to use includes hook-and-line fishing, in which fisherman quickly release unwanted species Again, about 20% of shark species are threatened with extinction, primarily as a result of being accidently caught on longlines
Not just fish are bycatch. “ Despite declines in recent years, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and porpoises, die as bycatch. As many as 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherback turtles are caught annually. Longline fishing also kills hundreds of thousands of seabirds when they become entangled in driftnets or caught on longline hooks when they dive for bait. ” 100,000 albatross are killed every year while fishing Fishermen don’t want bycatch – wastes valuable resources. In order to reduce this, boats must be equipped with more selective gear.
Catch limits: such as the sensible thriving Alaskan Salmon fishery MPAs: Like national parks on land, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can be used to protect biologically rich ecosystems and help restore overfished populations. There is compelling evidence that MPAs have rapid and lasting effects. MPAs are proven to increase size, numbers and diversity in fish populations. Even temporary closed areas can be a powerful tool in fisheries management. Currently, MPAs cover less than one percent of the world's oceans; by comparison, there's similar protection for four percent of Earth's land area. This trend is slowly changing as MPAs become more popular across the globe. The New Zealand government plans to protect 10 percent of its marine waters by 2010, and California will adopt a statewide network of Marine Protected Areas by 2011.” Habitat damage and Bycatch: “In places where management agencies have enforced the use of better fishing gear, bycatch and habitat damage have been reduced. This includes requiring devices that allow turtles to escape from nets, the use of less harmful &quot;circle hooks&quot; and a movement away from harmful methods such as bottom trawls and dredges.”…“Seabirds often flock around longline vessels, and can become snared and drown as they try to feed on baited hooks thrown into the ocean. &quot;Streamer lines&quot; have proven to be a cost-effective solution that has dramatically reduced seabird deaths in several longline fisheries. Brightly colored streamer lines made of polyester rope are positioned on each side of the longline. The colors and the flapping of the lines scare seabirds away from the baited hooks. From 1993 to 2001, roughly 16,000 seabirds died each year in Alaskan groundfish longline fisheries. In 2002, streamer lines became required gear; since then, the number of seabird deaths has decreased by approximately 70 percent.” These practices CAN help dramatically, as was the case with the Atlantic Swordfish. Migratory, so international cooperation required to protect them. In 1990s, pops were severely depleted. International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implemented protection plans starting in 1999, and now stocks have recovered to 99% healthy levels. As a result of tis good management, U.S. Atlantic swordfish, once on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's &quot;Avoid&quot; list, moved into the &quot;Good Alternative&quot; list, reflecting the success of these rebuilding efforts.
Would def recommend checking out for more info
However, many farming practices are environmentally detrimental. This depends on the species farmed, where the farm is located, and how they are raised.
An old graph, but shows the rapidly increasing proportion of aquaculture versus wild fisheries
As with wild caught seafood, not just what we farm but how. Each has pros and cons Open Net Pens or Cages Open pens enclose fish in pre-existing waterways (coastal areas, lakes). Considered high impact – waste from the fish pass freely into surrounding environment, polluting wild habitat. Farmed fish can also escape and compete with native species and/or interbreed. Diseases and parasites spread easily. Salmon farmed this way Ponds Enclose fish in an inland body of water. Shrimp, catfish, tilapia raised this way. Good: wastewater can be contained and treated. Bad: discharge of untreated wastewater can pollute surrounding area and contaminate ground flow. Also, construction of shrimp ponds in mangrove forests has destroyed more than 3.7 million acres of coastal habitat Raceways Farmers divert water from natural waterways to flow through fish-containing channels. Water is usually treated and then returned to the natural waterway. Used to raise rainbow trout in the U.S. Cons: if untreated, wastewaters from raceways can contaminate surrounding environment. Fish can also escape and compete/interbreed. Recirculating Systems Fish raised in tanks. Water is treated and recycled. Can be used to raise any finfish species (bass, salmon, sturgeon). Environmentally friendly in that fish can’t escape and wastewater is treated. Cons: costly to operate and use a lot of power Shellfish Culture Shellfish grown on beaches or suspended in water. Raise oysters, mussels, and clams. Pros: require very little resources as they are filter feeders, can even improve waterways. Cons: in high densities in areas with no water flow waste can accumulate. Also some shellfish have been historically known to be responsible for introduction of invasive species.
1 st problem with aquaculture: some fish farmers have become “ranchers” and catch young species such as eels and bluefin tuna and raise them to adulthood. This takes the reproducers out of the wild population and thus greatly depletes them. Tuna takes over 15 pounds of feed for every pound it gains The solution? Not all fish are carnivorous! Finfish such as catfish and tilapia as well as shellfish can be raised on diets requiring little wild fish, and thus have less of an environmental impact (and are cheaper) Bad choice: farmed salmon (takes a lot of fishmeal) and ranched tuna. Good choice: farmed shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels)
Parasites from salmon farms located next to wild salmon migration routes can kill up to 80% of the wild fish in a surrounding area. Onshore, “closed” farms are better alternatives. “ Tilapia, catfish, cobia and trout are raised inland in the U.S. Most Arctic char (good salmon alternative) is also raised onshore using systems that recirculate water, reducing disease transfer and pollution.”
each year, millions of fish escape from fish farms. These escapees compete with native fish and interbreed with them, irreversibly changing the gene pool of native species. “closed” farming reduces this.
Location of farms is crucial. In tropical nations such as Thailand and Ecuador, mangrove forests are being decimated by shrimp farms. Mangroves protect coastlines and shelter local flora and fauna. These are being cut down to make way for shrimp farms that service Europe, Japan, and America. The Env. Justice Foundation claims that as much as 38% of global mangrove destruction is linked to shrimp farm development. Coastal habitats are vital for all sorts of plant and animal life and therefore farms must be moved inland Smaller farms have less of an environmental impact The best? “ Several kinds of shellfish aquaculture are recognized as environmentally responsible, including the farming of bivalves like clams, oysters, mussels and scallops. Most environmental concern about aquaculture focuses on the farming of marine finfish and shrimp, which are often intensively cultivated carnivores. In contrast, farming shellfish has few negative impacts overall. Most shellfish feed on naturally occurring particulates; because supplemental feeds are not used, shellfish farming does not increase nutrient inputs to coastal waters. In fact, increased abundance of shellfish in an area is often considered to have a positive effect on water quality. ”
: “ Though there is no Marine Stewardship Council-equivalent for farmed seafood, an analogous Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is being developed. The ASC would be responsible for working with independent, third-party entities to certify aquaculture operations that are in compliance with global standards for responsible seafood-farming practices. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and comparable European bodies are developing organic standards for farmed seafood that will help consumers to identify better products. ” Need an ecosystem approach to aquaculture – work with the land and not against it
The Bay Ray (cownose ray) eats shellfish in amazing quantities – damages the shellfish fishery. Proposed to start a specified fishery targeting the Cheseapeake Bay Ray Chesapeake rays have a long gestation period - 11 months - and a low birth rate - on average just more than one pup a year. The goal in managing the fishery will be to strike a balance between maximum catch limits and maintaining a ray population that can sustain itself.
Over one billion people rely on fish as an important source of protein. – WWF
Seafood is a billion dollar industry, providing markets all over the globe
2 main approaches:
Wild Caught Seafood
*Although many modern practices are environmentally detrimental, there are some fisheries that are sustainable. In order to save the world’s oceans, we need to improve the practices of the remaining fisheries and solve the most pressing issues*
“ 75 percent of the world's fisheries are either fully exploited, overexploited or have collapsed. The global fishing fleet is operating at 2.5 times the sustainable level—there are simply too many boats chasing a dwindling number of fish”.
Extract from ABC's Nightline programme, with Cynthia McFadden. Nov 17, 2009 on Rupert Murray’s documentary based on the book by Charles Clover “T he End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat”
“ The Virginia Marine Products Board is the marketing arm for Virginia's seafood industry. We are promoting the Chesapeake Ray through a Grant offered by the Marine Fishing Improvement Fund. The seafood industry, especially the Oyster industry, has asked that the Virginia Marine Products Board look into developing the Chesapeake Ray into a fishery to help control the Ray's population.
The Ray population has greatly increased because of the decline in coastal sharks, and it has never been a fishery. The Rays are feeding on young oysters which are now being caged to protect their survival. Studies have shown that they also feed on young crabs, clams and fish. The method that the ray uses to get oysters is by flapping its wings to uncover it's meal, when doing this large areas of under water grass beds are destroyed. Our objective is to develop the Ray into a sustainable fishery by which it's numbers can be reduced. Hopefully this will allow more oysters and grass beds to survive which the bay needs in our efforts to help in it's recovery.”
~ Joe Cardwell Seafood Marketing Specialist Virginia Marine Products Board
“ What state officials and scientists want to avoid is the fate of the Chilean sea bass and, even worse, the Chesapeake ray's sister species, the Brazilian cownose ray. After achieving popularity, it was quickly overfished into endangered species status”
~Robert Fisher, Virginia Institute of Marine Science fisheries specialist