And scales full of the sunset Twitch on the rocks, no more to wander at will The wild Pacific pasture nor wanton and spawning Race up into fresh water.
— Robinson Jeffers, Salmon Fishing (1938)
A Greenland Shark born four centuries ago would have swum in a world that existed not long after the Elizabethan era when the human population was little over half a billion. Now, with the human population nearing 8 billion and the climate changing faster than ever before, I wonder what a Greenland Shark born today will experience if she survives to 400?
If you were an average bacterium in that bottle, at what time would you first realize you were running out of space? Well, let’s just look at the last minutes in the bottle. At 12:00 noon, it’s full; one minute before, it’s half full; 2 minutes before, it’s a quarter full; then a 1/8th; then a 1/16th. Let me ask you, at 5 minutes before 12:00, when the bottle is only 3% full and is 97% open space just yearning for development, how many of you would realize there’s a problem?
Fish accounts for 17% of all animal protein consumed in the world, and 26% of that consumed in the poorest and least developed countries. The ocean is also an important source of income; nearly 60 million people work in fisheries and aquaculture, and an estimated 200 million jobs are directly or indirectly connected with the fisheries sector. [500 million by other estimates]. Fish remains one of the most traded food commodities worldwide, and 54% of this trade comes from developing countries. For these countries, the fish trade generates more income than most other food commodities combined.
The sustainability of fisheries is therefore essential to the livelihoods of billions of people in coastal communities around the world, especially in developing countries, where 97% of fishermen live. But if we stay on our current course, we will push one of the planet’s prime food sources to the limit and compromise our ambitions for a better world by 2030. The subsidies that do harm to fisheries, and which have underpinned the dramatic decrease of fish stocks in the last 40 years, must be withdrawn by 2020. Only then can we begin to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Harmful fisheries subsidies are estimated to total more than $20 billion a year [$35 billion by some estimates]. Not only do they fuel overexploitation, they disproportionately benefit big business. Nearly 85% of fisheries subsidies benefit large fleets, but small-scale fisheries employ 90% of all fishermen and account for 30% of the catch in marine fisheries.
- Fishing without a license or quota for certain species.
- Failing to report catches or making false reports.
- Keeping undersized fish or fish that are otherwise protected by regulations.
- Fishing in closed areas or during closed seasons, and using prohibited fishing gear.
- Conducting unauthorized transshipments (e.g., transfers of fish) to cargo vessels.
|Villa of the Nile Mosaic, 1st Century|
Three whole days and nights alternate
Old Nokomis and the sea-gulls
Stripped the oily flesh of Nahma,
Till the waves washed through the rib-bones,
Till the sea-gulls came no longer,
And upon the sands lay nothing
But the skeleton of Nahma.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha’s Fishing (1855)
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