A major study published today in the journal Science documents that roughly one third of the world's commercial fisheries have collapsed, and that unless current trends are reversed, all of the world's commercial fisheries are likely to have collapsed in less than 50 years. The study, conducted by a group of internationally-known marine scientists and economists, reveals that a variety of factors including overfishing, the destruction of marine habitat, pollution and alterations in the ocean's biogeochemistry caused by climate change, are taking a dramatic toll on life in the sea.
The following may be attributed to Joshua Reichert, director of the environment program at The Pew Charitable Trusts.
"With the growing loss of species in the world's oceans, the entire marine system is beginning to unravel. The consequences are staggering. Over 200 million people worldwide depend directly or indirectly on fishing as their principal livelihood. More than one billion people, many of whom are among the poorest on earth, rely on fish as their main source of animal protein. Revenue from ocean-related tourism, in the hundreds of billions, would decline, and entire communities would lose their way of life, with profound social consequences.
"The good news is there is still time to prevent most of these things from happening. There is great resiliency in the sea. Many populations of fish and other marine species will come back, if we simply give them a chance to recover.
"It is time to put an end to overfishing. The world's coastal nations must take steps to sustainably manage fisheries within their own territorial waters and to restrict the use of destructive fishing gear that damages marine habitat and results in the incidental killing of huge numbers of fish and other marine species. We need an international effort to reign in illegal and unsustainable fishing on the high seas, that area of the world's oceans which lies beyond the 200 mile limit from shore.
"The time has clearly come to act, both nationally and globally. If we fail, the next generation will be facing far greater problems than simply having no fish to eat."
Read Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services on the Science magazine website.