09/12/2011 - Deep below the ocean surface lies a cold, hostile environment where the light of day cannot penetrate. The life-forms inhabiting this murky world grow slowly, mature late and take time to reproduce. Many species live 30 years or more, some up to the grand age of 150. Most have not yet been defined by science.
This dark void, which lies beyond any country’s national jurisdiction, is in trouble.
The world’s deep-sea catch is steadily declining, and the high vulnerability of these fish populations and diverse marine ecosystems is well documented. Last year, officials from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea declared that in the Northeast Atlantic, 100 percent of all targeted deep-sea species have been fished “outside safe biological limits.” Yet the fishing continues, via trawlers dragging enormous weighted nets that, in a single pass, scrape clean the ocean floor.
We are spending millions in public funds to wreck seascapes that take millennia to form. Governments must realize that deep-sea fishing not only wastes taxpayer dollars but that destroying the unique marine life in the deep sea for a relatively small catch of slow-growing fish is a bad investment.
Read the full op-ed, Put the Brakes on Deep-Sea Fishing, on The Washington Post's website.
Karen Sack is director of International Ocean Conservation at Pew Environment Group.