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Hooked on fishing, and we're heading for the bottom, says scientist

e biomass, or weight, of fish caught from the world's oceans ?in the late 1980s. Since then, while there have been regional variations, the global fish haul has gradually sunk.

"There's no doubt about this," says Dr. Pauly whose findings have been published in the world's leading peer-reviewed journals, including Science and Nature. "We're in a phase where increasing fishing effort produces less catch."

While global catches peaked in the late 1980s, the peak occurred earlier in those parts of the world where industrial fishing developed first. Thus, peak fish occurred in the mid-1970s in the North Atlantic, exploited by European and North American fisheries. In the southern Atlantic, where the industrialization of fishing stated later, peak fish occurred in the mid-1990s.

Dr. Pauly is adamant that pulling back from a global fisheries collapse ?one on par with the collapse of various regional fisheries, such as the Atlantic cod fishery off Canada's Newfoundland coast ?requires recognizing what he describes as a deep divide between the fishing industry and those who eat fish. He argues that fisheries companies' actions show that they're primarily interested in maximizing short-term profit, with little or no regard for the long-term sustainability of fish stocks.

"The industry is ready to commit suicide at any time," he says. "It's an industry that needs to be reined in for its own good."

He notes that the global fisheries industry is very complex. According to Dr. Pauly, it operates with "one foot deep in illegality," by landing illegal catches, and skirting existing laws through the use of tools such as flags of convenience. And, he says, public policy on marine fish conservation issues is distorted by the fact that most governments view fishing companies, and not their citizens, who actually are the true owners of the resources, as their main constituency.

While the situation is dire, Dr. Pauly believes this situation
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Source:Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council


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