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Earth Science

Overfishing Responsible For Declining Fish Population ( 212

iONiUM send word of a new study into fishing practices around the world that found official reports have dramatically underestimated the number of fish caught over the past several decades. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, global catches peaked at 86 million tons in 1996, and began a slow decline after that. This study suggests the peak was much higher — around 130 million tons — and subsequent catch rates are falling three times faster. Significantly, they believe the decline is not due to less fishing activity, but rather the exhaustion of supply in many areas. One of the study's authors, Daniel Pauly, said, "I expect a continued decline because I don’t expect countries to realise the need to rebuild stocks. I don’t see African countries, for example, rebuilding their stocks, or being allowed to by the foreign fleets that are working there, because the pressure to continue to fish is very strong. We know how to fix this problem but whether we do it or not depends on conditions that are difficult."
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Overfishing Responsible For Declining Fish Population

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  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @11:32AM (#51336043) Homepage

    Overeating responsible for obesity.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:00PM (#51336343)

      It is unfair to blame the Guardian for a stupid Slashdot headline. The point of the study was not to show that overfishing caused fish stocks to decline (we already knew that), but to actually quantify the rate of decline. The Guardian's headline expresses that accurately, while the Slashdot headline is misleading.

      • by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @02:17PM (#51337739) Journal

        Submitter here. The summary isn't even the article I submitted. Here is my submission: submission []. And here is the actual article I linked as the main article main article [].

        The title there is "Oceans running out of fish as undeclared catches add a third to official figures."

    • I don't know - maybe the fish have gone on a diet and just getting smaller - so we have to catch more of them. :-P

      RadioLab covered this in two stories (that I'm aware of) []

      This second one is really interesting (which I can't find the link for - it was a story on a another blog that RL linked to) - how to make bigger fish. Since we catch big fish - natural selection says "you get big - you die soon" - therefore smaller fish reproducing most. So if we want bigger fish - catch

      • Atlantic Salmon were observed to be reduced in average weight solely due to fishing pressure. Older, larger fish were being netted more often, and so the population decreased in size.

        And Salmo Salar would be a good example of multinational fishing virtually destroying a wild population. North American Haddock coming in as a example of both overfishing to dangerously low population levels, and a concerted management effort resulting in a stabilized population. We used to joke about how the Gloucester fis

  • People eat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @11:51AM (#51336245) Homepage
    More people eat more. 7 Bellion people eat alot more. I do not see this ending well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Virtucon ( 127420 )

      This is exactly the big problem. We have too many people for the resources available. That means one of these possibilities must happen soon:

      1) We start getting serious about population control. You don't need 20 kids anymore to insure your retirement.
      2) We have another world war and wipe out a chunk of who's already here. Unfortunately that'll probably be a nuclear war
      and the rest of us will be gone as well.
      3) We all start starving, in that case I suggest eating the Kardashians and any other reality TV

      • I like your post. this over-fishing issue is a result of over-fucking. The solution is not to fish less, but to fuck less. But damn! that girl is hot. So there we are.
      • 6) We implement "Logan's Run" and everybody who's 30 or older gets zapped at festival.

        You mean Carousel.

        • 6) We implement "Logan's Run" and everybody who's 30 or older gets zapped at festival.

          You mean Carousel.

          You mean Sleepshop.

          • 6) We implement "Logan's Run" and everybody who's 30 or older gets zapped at festival.

            You mean Carousel.

            You mean Sleepshop.

            Nope, nevermind. 30 is the movie. 21 is the book. My bad.

      • And the data says: western nations are already at or close to replacement levels. There isn't any point to restricting the pursuit of happiness for the few individuals in developed nations who enjoy large families. So, you've got to go through the sticky situation of telling developing nations how many kids a mother can have, despite higher mortality rates than in the developed world, despite the fact those children may be the result of assault. Good luck with that. Maybe we could just worry about morta
      • It doesn't have to happen in one big war. Wars will become more frequent--not just between states but lots of civil wars will break out as people are fed up with governments not dealing with the economic situation. This process has already started, but hasn't progressed to the point where population is in decline.

    • Re:People eat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @02:00PM (#51337591) Homepage Journal

      Well, what you do in order to feed those billions makes a difference, doesn't it? Even if you feed them wild fish, how you harvest those fish makes a difference. Unlike, say, manufacturing widgets, unregulated extraction doesn't maximize output over the long term. Fishing isn't production, it's extraction, and since it's a renewable resource you want to extract in a manner which doesn't shift the system equilibrium -- you don't want to live on your environmental capital.

      I once saw a presentation by a marine ecologist who modeled the impact of marine sanctuaries, and his model showed that long term fish catches were maximized by creating large marine sanctuaries and intensively fishing around the sactuaries' perimeters. Now this is just an idea, mind you, and a compelling argument isn't the same as proof; but this is the kind of idea we need to consider. You could say, "Screw it, we've got seven billion mouths to feed," and catch as much fish as you can in the short term, but that only makes your problem worse in the long term as you extract each fishery down to the point of collapse.

      I thought the sanctuary idea was interesting because it would be way simpler to enforce than giving each fishing boat a quota. All you have to do is ensure fishing boats don't go into any no-go areas. Rather than trying to divvy up a total catch fairly, you simply maximize the system output and let market forces determine who stays in business; meanwhile you maintain completely pristine and maximally productive areas, extracting only the sustainable surplus they produce rather than eating your metaphorical seed corn.

      Yeah, it's a big problem, but you only make it bigger by throwing up your hands in despair.

      • The sanctuary idea works for shallow water species which live near shore, or in estuaries when they are young. Unfortunately, most of the staple food fishes (cod, pollack, anchovies, tuna, mackerel, herring, etc) are open-water fishes. They spawn in the open ocean, and move where the currents and temperature breaks take them. This has made both studying and regulating the fishery extremely difficult (especially for tuna, which travel around the entire ocean crossing dozens of countries' jurisdictions).
    • The United States alone produces enough food to feed the entire world population. The US could feed 1.5x it's own population at US consumption levels without any drop in food exports.

      Food production is a non-problem.

    • Not only this

      The droughts in Australia, California, and Texas were very severe the past few years.

      As a result the price of beef went up as supply went down. Mixed with obesity problems for western countries has caused a demand in healthier meats. Both of these factors created a strong surge for fish demand. Fish is still cheaper at a McDonalds than a big mac so price is part of the equation as well.

      The problem economic way to solve this (but will appear like a socialist) is to tax fish. As the price goes up

  • Old addage (Score:5, Funny)

    by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @11:56AM (#51336297)
    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and the oceans will eventually be depleted.
    • by shess ( 31691 )

      Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and the oceans will eventually be depleted.

      Bah, human activity cannot affect the operation of the earth!

    • Fisheries are not a linear system where any negative pressure automatically results in a population decrease. Contrary to the adage, a "delicate balance" in nature is extraordinarily rare, almost unheard of. Any delicate balance by its very nature ceases to exist pretty quickly.

      Most systems in nature are extremely stable, able to absorb huge variances in input forces without destabilizing. Anything less stable already self-destructed millions of years ago. Fish populations can absorb a substantial am
  • Otherwise they'd just call it "fishing."

  • >> Overfishing Responsible For Declining Fish Population

    What? You mean UNDERfishing didn't cause it? (File under "no shit, who gives a shit" next time, eh?)

    • Well I have a lake that needs some more fishing pressure it is smaller but of the 7 people who have properties on it only 3 fish it and even then only rarely. As I only recently acquired it I really haven't had a chance to fish it much this year (in college we would fish it regularly) but it sounds like the bass have started taking over so I might pound them hard this spring.
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:16PM (#51336493)

    Yeah, let's get larger and larger factory ships which are capable of staying at sea longer and process the catch directly. Let's also implement massive drag nets that also destroy the sea bed, coral and any other habitable environment for fish nurseries and you'll have massive extinction areas which are already forming. Great job progress! Winning!

    • It's not just that but stupid legislation that causes by-catch to be thrown overboard instead of being used. Say a boat goes out and has a quota for fish A and in the process they catch a bunch of other fish too. Of course that's going to happen since the nets don't discriminate. Now in the EU if they land with that other fish it counts against them even if they can't do anything with it so they have to get rid of it. All that fish has been killed for nothing. Something should be worked out so that the fi

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:19PM (#51336527) Homepage Journal

    We know how to fix this problem.

    The implication is that we should dial back fishing in order to let the stocks replenish.

    Which means, hypothetically, you need to take all the fishing boat owners in, say, Boston Harbor and say "30% of you have to stop fishing".

    And with no plan for what to do with the out-of-work owners and their families and some deck hands and their families. Just "stop fishing", that's how to fix the problem.

    We actually *don't* know know to fix the problem. We *should* ease up on fishing, but that presents other problems which must then be fixed.

    • Unfortunately, we have people who are against all sorts of regulation, so it can't be fixed.
      Perhaps fishers will have to go the way of buggy drivers and calculators.

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @04:20PM (#51338813) Journal

      And with no plan for what to do with the out-of-work owners and their families and some deck hands and their families. Just "stop fishing", that's how to fix the problem.

      Ah yes, the old assumption that doing nothing is somehow a sensible default option.

      Thing is if you don't force 30% of those boats out of work, then the fish stock will collapse and force 100% of the boats out of work. And those who object to putting 30% out of work sure as hell have NO plan with what to do with the owners, deckhands and families when they're all out of work.

      So yes, "just stop" is in fact a better plan than carrying on.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      you need to take all the fishing boat owners in, say, Boston Harbor

      Why just Boston Harbor? What about all the fishermen in villages around the world? "Just stop fishing" means that people will have to eat something else. Probably something cultivated or raised on land. And since we (in the first world) are already farming most of the viable land, this means going to third world countries, throwing the indigenous people off their land and raising crops and livestock.

  • click to find out what is wetterer!
  • Soon the amount plastic floating in the oceans* will exceed the mass of live fish - eat the plastic and if that does not work, GMO yourself so it works out.

    *) Google is your ....

  • How feasible would it be to seriously upscale fish farming efforts to large numbers for the stocks people want to eat? And is the taste about the same?

    • My understanding is that farmed fish are mostly fed fish, so we need some fundamental changes in how we farm fish.

    • It depends on who you ask. Fish farmers would claim that you can scale up quite a lot. From what I've read, it doesn't scale very well at all. It tends to pollute the water, attract parasites, and produce a lower grade of fish. You save the wild populations, but the water ends up having a lot of antibiotic runoff, etc.

      And where do you put the farms? Are you pushing out a native species by setting up a farm? How much food do you have to bring to farm? Very often, producing 1kg of fish people want to eat cost

      • I read a little bit about it (not enough to be an expert though). Suppose we put the facility indoors to remove the impact to a native species. Now we have deal with the water and feed the fish but we aren't disruptive to the surrounding aquatic environments.

        Couldn't we filter the water through aquatic plantlife (say algae and other things) to clean it up and reoxygenate it? The plant life could then feed smaller fish who then become food for the target fish. If we were to produce more algae than necessary,

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