Stop fishing on high sea – or at the coast?

Pasted Graphic 1
Trawler of the German Democratic Republic on high sea, 1983
(Photo: Jürgen Sindermann, Bundesarchiv, Wikimedia Commons)

Some redoubtable marine researchers have come to the conclusion that high sea fishing should be stopped at all in order to save the fish stocks we still have and to even boost the actual catch volume!

The University of British Columbia based researchers around famous fishery biologist Daniel Pauly claim closing the high seas to commercial fishing could be catch-neutral and distribute fisheries income more equitably among the world's maritime nations.

If fishing in international waters (200 miles off the coast) was banned, this could become the world’s «fish bank», the researchers propose. And while today 10 nations alone land 71 per cent of value of catches in international waters, fishing restricted to the 200 miles national exclusive economic zones (EEZ) would distribute this value more equitably among the coastal states. As a matter of fact the high seas are part of the «common heritage of mankind» as charted 1982 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Abstract: Science Daily
Study: Winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing. U. Rashid Sumaila, Vicky W. Y. Lam, Dana D. Miller, Louise Teh, Reg A. Watson, Dirk Zeller, William W. L. Cheung, Isabelle M. Côté, Alex D. Rogers, Callum Roberts, Enric Sala, Daniel Pauly. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 8481

The problem of a high seas fishing ban however is that many species of commercial interest are dwelling within the EEZ rather than far off the coast. High sea ban may save tuna and swordfish stocks but not the ones of groupers, seabeams, mackerels, and many others.

Instead, should we not reduce fishiung the nearer it comes to the coast? Coastal waters are the most prolific and are the nursery ground of most aquatic species.
As a matter of fact, says star marine biologist Jeremy Jackson, mankind is well on the way to destroy the coastal marine ecosystems. To stop it, we have to «protect a third of the ocean completely from fishing», Jackson urges. Actually we protect not even one per cent and by that we cause a lot of ecological and social problems beyond just oberfishing, Jackson explains.

No more fishing on one third of all ocean surfaces? Greenpeace is calling for one forth which sounds already far out for fishermen as well as for fish enthusiasts. But let’s face it: 33 per cent, and it should not be just unproductive ocean regions but a mixture of it all, the most prolific areas included to cut the mustard: rebuilding healthy stocks and preserving the functions of the marine and coastal ecosystems.

Thus we better create big and plenty enough no take zones as well on high sea as along the coasts.

Interview with Jeremy Jackson

Ist Sorge für einen Goldfisch ein Verbrechen?

«Was sind das für Zeiten, wo                                                  
Ein Gespräch über Bäume fast ein Verbrechen ist
Weil es ein Schweigen über so viele Untaten einschließt!»
Bert Brecht, An die Nachgeborenen

Peixe010eue Im «Guardian» erzählt die in England angesehene Kolumnistin Deborah Orr die Geschichte eines Mannes, der £ 300 für eine Operation ausgab, um seinen Goldfisch wieder gesund zu bekommen. Ist dieser Mann auf durchgeknallte Weise unmoralisch, dass er überhaupt nur an ein derartige Handlung denken konnte, während Millionen von Menschen am Verhungern sind? Könnte er nicht seine Zeit und sein Geld dafür einsetzen, wenigstens etwas gegen die wirklichen Probleme von heute zu tun?

Es gibt nach meiner Überzeugung keine Probleme, die es rechtfertigen würden, die Lösung anderer Probleme zu vertagen oder aufzugeben. Es gibt nur richtige und falsche Probleme.
Für mich ist jedes Problem richtig, das die Folge eines unmenschlichen, lebensfeindlichen Gesellschaftssystems ist, des unmenschlichsten und lebensfeindlichsten in der ganzen Geschichte, um genau zu sein, auch wenn wir das auf unserer heilen Insel Westeuropa nicht so direkt mitbekommen.
Darum stimme ich mit Deborah Orr darin überein, das scheinbar naive Sorgen um die Genesung eines kleinen Goldfischs zu verstehen als einen wichtigen Akt im Versuch, ein Leben als Mensch zu leben.
Besser ich sorge für jemand als für gar niemand. Besser ich sorge für jemand innerhalb meiner Möglichkeiten als zu versuchen, für die Ärmsten überhaupt zu sorgen, die jedoch weit ausserhalb meiner Reichweite leben.


Is it a crime to care for a goldfish these times?

Carassius auratus (Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/Wikimedia Commons)

In The Guardian, Deborah Orr narrates the story of a man who spent £ 300 for an
operation to get his goldfish healthy again. Is this man madly immoral to even think of such a thing while millions of people are just starving? Could he not dedicate his time and money to just DO something against the real problems of today?

There is as per my opinion no problem which could be more important than another one and thus justify to postpone or even quit the solution of this other problem. There are only true problems and false ones.
As I see it, each problem is true that comes as a consequence of an inhumane, hostile to life social system, to be precise of the most inhumane and the most hostile to life social system in history, even if we don’t notice it too directly on our idyllic island called Western Europe. I therefore agree with Deborah Orr to understand the seemingly naïve caring for the recovery of a tiny goldfish as an important act of living a human life.
Better I care for somebody than for nobody at all. Better I do it for someone within my reach than trying do do it for the poorest people ever yet far beyond my means.


More of the same

                                                     Deutscher Text hier

U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) publishes a new report on supply and demand for food worldwide. The study carried out by Audun Lem et al. claims that the global seafood industry cannot keep up with consumer’s demand without aquaculture. Audun Lem told that «activists» who think the world can live without aquaculture are «not only dead wrong», but «surpassed by reality».

The reality is the reality is the reality… aha.

According to FAO’s periodical SOFIA reports, the capture fishery production has been stagnating since the 1990ies at a level of at about 90 million tons, while aquacultures is already yielding 67 million tons, with a steady annual growth of 5 to 9 percent since the 1950ies. For somebody who takes these figures as a natural law, the argument of Audun Lem and FAO colleagues is not astonishing.
The problem however is that Lem et al. are but extrapolating an already fatal process. Instead of looking into the reasons of the capture stagnation, they simply take it for granted.
Fishery biologists like Daniel Pauly (the one who found out former FOA catch statistics where wrong) or his colleague Rainer Froese (the one who showed that even corrected, FAO stock status statistics do not indicate the bad truth entirely) are pointing out that fishery could yield much more globally and be more profitable – if we simply took a break in looting. Almost all commercially exploited stocks need a respite to rebuild at original levels, some species would need few years, other more.
The reason why global fishery yield stagnates is not because we reached the upper yield limit but because we were looting already depleted stocks for too long – and with increasingly ruthless methods.
Estimations show that by reducing the current catch volume by half during four to five years, and banning ruthless methods with high bycatch or high habitat impacts, we could expect the global yield increasing by more than half of the current volume or another 45 million tons. We could obviously restrain from farming carnivore species that have to be fed with components for which one forth of the global catch has to be used.

A smart global fish policy

would consist of three elements: exploiting healthy stocks only, realizing higher catch volumes and higher returns, and farming non-predator species only. This would guarantee enough fish for everybody.
Humanity can of course continue on the current way of fishing at the edge, and of boosting an aquaculture industry which in most cases consists of animal factories that would be objected to if terrestrial animals were concerned. One can continue like this, maybe until 2030, maybe even somewhat longer, improving details here and there by green programs of all kinds. It will unfortunately not lead us to the solution which is presented as a core argument for the «blue revolution»: it will not guarantee food for all as it does not guarantee the basis, i.e. healthy stocks. As long as we are not able to make best use of what nature provides us with, we cannot expect to make it better in our own way.


Will fish welfare become a core criterion for certifcation by 2020? – Wird Fischwohl ab 2020 zu einem Kernkriterium bei der Zertifizierung?