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.