Collapsing seas – the reality of our ocean’s plight

This is a sobering graphic on overfishing, trawler seafloor damage and the effect climate change is having on the oceans. Even where I sit writing this in Phuket, the volume of local seafood I’ve seen laid out on ice beds at the front of fancy restaurants makes me wonder what effect the tourist trade has on fish stocks in the Andaman Sea and beyond.


About oceanicexplorer

Posted on October 27, 2012, in conservation, fishing, science, sea life, whaling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi Steve, Good post. But the most important factor – the one behind all the others – is missing: Overpopulation. We’ve really got to stop waltzing around this. Good luck on your marine biology program!

    • It’s true, population increase globally is driving overfishing and also pressure on pelagic fish stocks for aquaculture purposes. But it’s not just all down to how many people we have on the planet: some countries traditionally eat smaller fish, unlike us in the west who have a taste for large, resource-intensive fish

  2. Hope you don’t mind a little push-back here, Steve. Countries that are now targeting smaller fish are, almost without exception, countries that have long ago overfished their local seas because of… overpopulation. Keep watching. As numbers of people in the U.S. continue to grow, we will increasingly target those same smaller fish here. In fact, we already are. Look at what the fish oil & fertilizer industries are doing to menhaden populations on the east coast. Suppressed biomass of menhaden mean less forage for larger fish, which means… I do appreciate your post, but I believe if we aren’t identifying and discussing overpopulation…

  3. No, I don’t mind at all! I wrote that reply on my phone while waiting outside a takeaway shop, so didn’t put a heap of thought into it. And it’s very true that ‘fishing down the food chain’ is also a massive problem.
    One example is countries that allow trawling for large amounts of small fish to grind up into fishmeal for farm animals – there’s no forward thinking in allowing that.
    I had one lecturer this year who discussed the pros and cons of aquaculture – on one side was the overfishing of anchovies, on the other was the ability to feed larger fish that could provide protein for the growing population.

    The overpopulation issue is a thorny one though – people can easily link it mentally to extreme events such as the Holocaust or general racist methods of population control.

    If we’re talking about a one-child policy such as that implemented for city-based Chinese – I can’t ever see such a radical step taken globally. How else should we be addressing this problem?

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