At two major international meetings this past week, officials talked big and did nothing - despite dire warnings from the scientific community in both cases. To me, this shows just how badly the system is broken, and possibly worthless.
Despite intense negotiations that lasted into the early-morning hours, countries seeking a ban on bottom trawling in unregulated international waters failed Thursday to get United Nations support for the proposal.
Actually, we would have been happy enough with a temporary moratorium, giving scientists time to map out areas of vulnerable habitat before we bulldoze them. (A great BBC story on the issue can be found here.)
But anyway, that's the word on bottom trawling. For the record, it was apparently Iceland that killed the deal and leaving 64 percent of the world's oceans unprotected.
Last week there was also a big meeting about bluefin tuna stocks in the Mediterranean. Also a disaster.
Governments involved are making a big deal out of their decision to reduce the legal quota by 2,500 tons next year (down to 29,500 tonnes), and their promises of additional cuts coming with a goal of 25,500 tonnes by 2010.
Sounds great yeah? Except... Scientists say the tuna stock can't support more then 15,000 tonnes of catch per year, and is already nearing collapse. A few more years of over fishing and it could well be too late.
Even worse, the bureaucrats also decided not to take any significant action against pirate fishermen - who catch an estimated 50% over the legal limit.
Way to go.