More on overfishing
It is not news that the world’s oceans are in trouble. The United Nations estimates that over 70% of the world’s fish stocks are overfished. Many important fisheries have closed and many more are so overfished they are unlikely to ever recover. If man continues to plunder the ocean at the current level, studies show the entire world’s stocks of seafood will collapse by 2050. Critically endangered species such as Atlantic cod, goliath grouper, and bluefin tuna have less time. The World Wildlife Foundation chose the Bluefin as the sixth most threatened species in the world, land or sea. Scientists agree it will be functionally extinct by 2012. Still the governments of Japan, Canada, and others opposed a ban on international trade of the Bluefin on the grounds it would devastate fishing economies. Not surprising since a Bluefin can fetch as much as $100,000 in Japan. Yet global fish populations continue to plunge as catch limits and regulations set by organizations like the UN are disobeyed. The overfishing of a particular species does not just damage its population; it has serious effects on the entire food chain. Every species is vital to the overall health of the marine eco-system. Without large fish to eat the medium fish, the enormous medium fish population will devour all the small fish and will eventually starve, leaving the ocean practically empty. Overfishing also profoundly reduces the ocean’s ability to resist diseases, filter pollutants, and recover from stresses such as climate change. In addition, many fishing techniques such as the use of nets and long lines, kill indiscriminately. The unintended victims, called bycatch, include other species of fish, seabirds, sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, and other protected species.
Bycatch caught last year totaled 38.5 million tons or about 40% of all seafood catches. Think about this the next time you eat shrimp: For every pound of shrimp caught, 3 pounds of other marine creatures are killed in the nets and thrown away. To combat global overfishing, the RMP urges everyone to reduce the amount of seafood they eat and to always choose sustainable species. In Roatan, this means no grouper, lobster, or conch and definitely no sea turtles.