There is a crisis in our oceans and that means there’s a crisis surrounding our livelihoods! Today, November 21st, is World Fisheries Day … today we should be celebrating any achievements in sustainable fisheries and more importantly creating an awareness about the dire state of the world’s fisheries.
The declining state of the global fisheries has been characterized as a crisis resulting from unsustainable fishing practices, such as overfishing, by-catch, and IUU (illegal, unregulated, and unreported) fishing. Its seriousness can be exemplified by fishery collapse (such as the notorious Newfoundland cod fishery), the declining global fish stock/catch and ‘fishing down the food chain.’ This has serious consequences for humans and ecosystems in terms of unemployment, economic losses, declining sources of protein, and losses in biodiversity.
Super quick bullets on some sad stuff:
— 75% of fish stocks are either fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or recovering
— Over-exploitation has been documented as causing revenue and job loss:
– the aggregate global fleet of over a million industrial and semi-industrial vessels has been operating at an annual loss of some $50-billion each year — a collosal loss that is being compensated by government subsidies to vessel owners, and all at taxpayers’ expense
– small-scale fishing communities have faced the brunt of unemployment. Although employment in the fishing industry has been growing globally, it has been decreasing in developed countries that are capital intensive economies … the DFO moratorium on the cod fishery (1992) resulted in the largest job loss in Canadian history causing the unemployment of 10,000 fishers, 12,400 plant workers in 400 coastal communities
— Ghost fishing involves lost or abandoned fishing gear that continues to catch fish. It is environmentally detrimental and the fish caught are wasted.
— By-catch which entails the incidental capture of mammals, sea-birds, turtles, sharks and numerous other species that are not targeted by fisheries. In many cases these species are throw back alive, dead or dying into the ocean. Nets kill dolphins, porpoises and whales, longline fishing kills birds, and bottom trawling devastates marine ecosystems.
Super quick bullets on some hopeful stuff:
— Sustainable seafood comes from initiatives to recognize and/or certify seafood that is caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of the harvested species, non-targeted species and/or the ocean environment, depending on the particular initiative. Although there are criticisms involved with some initiatives, this sort of mechanism is a step in the direction toward sustainable seas and seafood. Examples include Friend of the Sea, Marine Stewardship Council, Dolphin Safe, Naturland, Fair-Fish, Fish Wise, ThisFish.org, etc.
— Community Supported Fisheries, or CSFs, are tailored after the idea of community supported agriculture enterprises. A CSF contributes freshly caught local seafood to the local markets while providing fishermen with a better price on less catch. These programs operate and nurture the triple bottom line:
- Environmental stewardship: to encourage an ethic of ecological stewardship that results in creative, community-based approaches to marine conservation.
- Local economies: to increase the viability of traditional coastal communities by fostering economic opportunities that support natural resource-based livelihoods.
- Social improvements: to cultivate ties and establish bonds between shoreside communities and inshore urban, suburban and rural communities by providing fresh, local seafood.
“I fished with my father, so long long ago
We were proud of our trade, and in us it did show
We held our heads high, there was lots of fish then
That was the time, when we were proud men
We challenged great storms and sometimes we won
Faced death and disaster, we rose with the sun
We worked and we toiled, we strained our men brane
We were a proud people, will we ere be again?
My father is gone now, and the fish are gone too.
Abused and mismanaged, oh what can we do?
I’m too old to change, but what of my sons,
How will they know that we weren’t the ones?
DFO regulations permitted the rape
Of our beautiful ocean, from head land to cape
They brought in big trollers, they tore up our twine
Politicians don’t care for what’s yours or what’s mine.”
— Fisherman’s Lament by Great Big Sea