There are a lot of fish in the sea. But their numbers are no match for growing human appetites and the ultra-efficient fisheries that have sprung up to feed our hunger. A shift towards “blue job” fisheries is urgently needed, experts say, if the oceans are to nourish future generations as they have in the past.
(Discussions are ongoing at Rio 20 on making international oceans policy more sustainable.)
About three billion people count on fish and other marine species as their primary source of protein, and about 8 percent of the world’s population are fishermen. Until recently, many people believed that the ocean held so much marine life that even such huge numbers of humans could not deplete its bounty.
But since the mid 20th century industrial fishing operations have used ever-improving technology to fish farther, faster, and longer—rapidly emptying waters of seafood to satisfy the swelling hunger of Earth’s growing population. Many fisheries have shown steep declines for decades and some studies estimate that populations of large ocean fish are just 10 percent of their pre-industrial levels.