“Losing Nemo” – Will the World Oceans be Devoid of Fish by 2048? This Film Says Yes, Unless We Change Policies Soon

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A European group, ‘The Black Fish‘, is working hard to get the message out about the state of the world’s fisheries, and their message is that without better oversight the economic gain of irresponsible fishing will drive fish stocks to extinction.  This Dutch group has been fundamental in the struggle to free the orca Morgan from captivity since her capture, but their main focus is on the fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea, where they say that fishing laws are flagrantly violated.
The Black Fish have now produced an interesting short animated film “Losing Nemo” in which the world’s future is portrayed as very grim – it shows that not just the loss of fish will occur, but along with it will go all the marine life that is dependent upon the fish. Below is “Losing Nemo”. The group provides links to support their claims, and these references are presented here as well.
It is not too late to turn this situation around, but it is going to require that we all do our bit. If you can do nothing else, please consume fish responsibly and consult NOAA’s FishWatch to find out what kinds of fish are considered good choices.

nature01610-f1.2 fish biomass world

FIGURE 1. Time trends of community biomass in oceanic (a–i) and shelf (j–m) ecosystems.

From the following article:

Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities
Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm
Nature 423, 280-283(15 May 2003)
Serious concerns have been raised about the ecological effects of industrialized fishing1, 2, 3, spurring a United Nations resolution on restoring fisheries and marine ecosystems to healthy levels4. However, a prerequisite for restoration is a general understanding of the composition and abundance of unexploited fish communities, relative to contemporary ones. We constructed trajectories of community biomass and composition of large predatory fishes in four continental shelf and nine oceanic systems, using all available data from the beginning of exploitation. Industrialized fisheries typically reduced community biomass by 80% within 15 years of exploitation. Compensatory increases in fast-growing species were observed, but often reversed within a decade. Using a meta-analytic approach, we estimate that large predatory fish biomass today is only about 10% of pre-industrial levels. We conclude that declines of large predators in coastal regions5 have extended throughout the global ocean, with potentially serious consequences for ecosystems5, 6,7. Our analysis suggests that management based on recent data alone may be misleading, and provides minimum estimates for unexploited communities, which could serve as the ‘missing baseline’8 needed for future restoration efforts.

Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch

Unselective fishing catches non-target organisms as ‘bycatch’—an issue of critical ocean conservation and resource management concern. However, the situation is confused because perceptions of target and non target catch vary widely, impeding efforts to estimate bycatch globally. To remedy this, the term needs to be redefined as a consistent definition that establishes what should be considered bycatch. A new definition is put forward as: ‘bycatch is catch that is either unused or unmanaged’. Applying this definition to global marine fisheries data conservatively indicates that bycatch represents 40.4 percent of global marine catches, exposing systemic gaps in fisheries policy and management.
Reference: DAVIES RWD, et al. Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch. Marine Policy (2009), doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2009.01.003.
Science 3 November 2006:
Vol. 314 no. 5800 pp. 787-790
DOI: 10.1126/science.1132294


Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services

Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean’s capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible.

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