- Endangered species
- IUU Fishing
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Something fishy going on
It’s estimated that 80% of fish stocks are being fished either at or above sustainable levels. That estimation is based on reported fishing activity. Add the impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) and we have a catastrophe waiting to happen.
IUU fishing is wreaking havoc in the oceans, and on the 2.6 billion people whose livelihoods depend on legal fishing industries or who depend on the oceans for food.
As www.stopillegalfishing.com so eloquently puts it, “Fish are getting scarcer...because too many fish get caught; too many fish are wasted; too many fish are stolen; and too many people get away with it.”
Unlike the world’s fish stocks, the poaching industry is alive and well and growing fast in almost all oceans of the world. And the poachers don’t play nicely either, usually heavily armed and well equipped, determined to preserve their lucrative trade and to escape the clutches of the few marine fisheries enforcement teams available.
Those who are trying to earn an honest living, whether through large scale legal fishing or small subsistence fishing, find that they are either forced away from their own waters by threats of violence or that fish stocks have become so depleted that there is no honest livelihood to be made anymore and they struggle to find alternative employment.
Illegal shipping vessels, singly or in whole fleets, are frequently funded by ‘Mr Big’s in China, Japan and Korea. Fish is often not the only cargo – drugs, arms, banned rhino horn and ivory from Africa or other illegal products or produce – anything goes.
As to the impact of poaching on other marine life like by catch or discarded nets, do you think that a poacher who is stealing millions of fish is going to be concerned with the whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles, seals, sea lions, manta rays, sharks, sea birds or any other creatures that are unlucky enough to be entangled in a driftnet, hooked on a long line, swept up in a purse seine, caught by a trawler, or blown up by explosives?
Nor will they worry about taking unsustainable levels of fish, under-sized or immature fish or endangered species. As long as they make money (which they do because they undercut the legal fisheries prices), and it’s only the marine life that gets caught (which it is, because it’s expensive and dangerous to efficiently police fishing grounds and try and catch them at it), IUU fishing remains one of the ocean’s biggest threats.
It's up to all of us to act against the raping of our oceans. To paraphrase Rob Barrett from Earthrace Conservation UK, "We seem to think that the ocean is a supermarket where we can empty the shelves and then moan when they aren’t restocked".