Image hosted by

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Say Goodbye to a Whole Bunch of Fish

Too many fish on the way out, too little time to shake some fins and say, "Sorry for wiping you out so we could have neat cocktail platters and super-duper soup."

In Europe, 200 freshwater species are about to go extinct:

Twelve of the 522 species are already extinct, mainly due to population growth and the accompanying use of water, pollution and overfishing over the past 100 years, the IUCN said in a statement.

"With 200 fish species in Europe facing a high risk of going extinct we must act now to avoid a tragedy," said IUCN programme officer William Darwall.

"Many of these species, not considered as 'charismatic' or with any apparent 'value' to people, rarely attract the funds needed for their conservation -- they risk disappearing with only a dedicated few noticing the loss," he added.

The IUCN said the biggest single threat comes from water shortages in Mediterranean areas, which are increasingly leading to dried rivers in summer months as climate change progresses.

Endangered species include the European freshwater eel due to overfishing, dams, new parasites and pollution, the IUCN said.


Global speaking, only 10% of all large fish are left in the ocean according to a 2003 study. We ate the other 90% :

“From giant blue marlin to mighty bluefin tuna, and from tropical groupers to Antarctic cod, industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean. There is no blue frontier left,” says lead author Ransom Myers, a world-leading fisheries biologist based at Dalhousie University in Canada. “Since 1950, with the onset of industrialized fisheries, we have rapidly reduced the resource base to less than 10% – not just in some areas, not just for some stocks, but for entire communities of these large fish species from the tropics to the poles.” This study not only confirms the bad news emerging from individual fisheries showing that species like cod can be fished below recovery, but it also reveals a grim global mosaic that demands immediate action. “The impact we have had on ocean ecosystems has been vastly underestimated,” says co-author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and the University of Kiel in Germany. “These are the megafauna, the big predators of the sea, and the species we most value. Their depletion not only threatens the future of these fish and the fishers that depend on them, it could also bring about a complete re-organization of ocean ecosystems, with unknown global consequences...

...“This is because we have forgotten what we used to have,” says Jeremy Jackson of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “We had oceans full of heroic fish - literally sea monsters. People used to harpoon three-meter long swordfish in rowboats. Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea was for real.”

Myers and Worm observe that the tendency in fisheries biology to use only the most recent data increases the problem of shifting baselines. These great fish are not only declining in numbers, but with intense fishing pressure they can never attain the sizes they once did. “Where detailed data are available we see that the average size of these top predators is only one fifth to one half of what is used to be. The few blue marlin today reach one fifth of the weight they once had. In many cases, the fish caught today are under such intense fishing pressure, they never even have the chance to reproduce,” says Myers.


Shark fin soup is a pretty expensive dish. The real cost? A world without sharks. The solution? Pretty simple actually...

The bright side to this very dark problem is the simplicity of one solution. Don't eat shark fin soup. Don't consume any shark products at this point. Refuse to patronize restaurants that serve shark fin soup until they remove it from their menu and encourage others to do the same. It's the easiest action we can all take that will have enormous impact. In this instance we are not being asked to make any large sacrifices, compromise comfort or even donate any money. We are just being asked to avoid one kind of soup!




Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home