Overfishing

Many marine ecologists think that the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems today is overfishing. Our appetite for fish is exceeding the oceans' ecological limits with devastating impacts on marine ecosystems. Scientists are warning that overfishing results in profound changes in our oceans, perhaps changing them forever. Not to mention our dinner plates, which in future may only feature fish and chips as a rare and expensive delicacy.

The fish don't stand a chance

More often than not, the fishing industry is given access to fish stocks before the impact of their fishing can be assessed, and regulation of the fishing industry is, in any case, woefully inadequate.

The reality of modern fishing is that the industry is dominated by fishing vessels that far out-match nature's ability to replenish fish. Giant ships using state-of-the-art fish-finding sonar can pinpoint schools of fish quickly and accurately. The ships are fitted out like giant floating factories - containing fish processing and packing plants, huge freezing systems, and powerful engines to drag enormous fishing gear through the ocean. Put simply: the fish don't stand a chance.

Ocean life health check

Populations of top predators, a key indicator of ecosystem health, are disappearing at a frightening rate, and 90 percent of the large fish that many of us love to eat, such as tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut, skate, and flounder - have been fished out since large scale industrial fishing began in the 1950s. The depletion of these top predator species can cause a shift in entire oceans ecosystems where commercially valuable fish are replaced by smaller, plankton-feeding fish. This century may even see bumper crops of jellyfish replacing the fish consumed by humans.

These changes endanger the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems, and hence threaten the livelihoods of  those dependent on the oceans, both now and in the future.

Fisheries collapse

The over-exploitation and mismanagement of fisheries has already led to some spectacular fisheries collapses. The cod fishery off Newfoundland, Canada collapsed in 1992, leading to the loss of some 40,000 jobs in the industry. The cod stocks in the North Sea and Baltic Sea are now heading the same way and are close to complete collapse.

Instead of trying to find a long-term solution to these problems, the fishing industry's eyes are turning towards the Pacific - but this is not the answer. Politicians continue to ignore the advice of scientists about how these fisheries should be managed and the need to fish these threatened species in a sustainable way.

The latest updates

 

More boats and more fishing will end up in empty plates and empty future

Blog entry by Apple Chow | December 6, 2012 1 comment

Fishing is not quite what it used to be. Even in the Pacific where images of sunny shores, palm tress and little canoes may prevail, reality underneath the waves is quite something else. Some of the biggest and most powerful fishing...

Pacific must solidify their position to save its ocean

Blog entry by Navi Tuivuniwai | November 29, 2012

The annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is scheduled to kick start in Manila, Philippines on December 2, 2012. On board the MY Esperanza, we’ve just completed the last leg of the  “Defending...

Ocean Defender Ship Tour

Feature story | November 28, 2012 at 14:10

Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is in the final part of the "Save our Oceans Asia Pacific Tour" after visiting South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Palau, and is now en route to Manila for the upcoming Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission...

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A day in the life of Geneviva

Blog entry by Cristina Nitafan | November 26, 2012

On board the African Queen, one of MY Esperanza ’s inflatable boats, we approached GENEVIVA, a purse seine fishing vessel from the Philippines. As we got nearer, the crew from the ship gave their genuine smiles and even gave us a hand...

The Esperanza's back in the Pacific

Blog entry by Farah Obaidullah | November 6, 2012

The sun has just set on my first day back on board the Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza. It’s been six years since I last sailed on the Esperanza for our Pacific fisheries campaign and I am glad to see how much...

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