/ ©: Peter Chadwick

Oceans in trouble

It is now widely accepted that commercial fisheries are in a state of decline worldwide.
The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report (SOFIA) from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released in 2006 indicates that over 76% of world fish stocks are exploited at or above sustainable levels.

Total world marine capture fisheries for 2005 was estimated at 84.2 million tons, down from 2004 and around the 84 million ton mark, the average for the past decade. Aquaculture production, however, has been on a steady increase since 2000 and in 2005 contributed more than a third of the total fish production (wild caught and farmed). There have also been a growing number of papers published in top scientific journals addressing the impacts and issues around overfishing.

Perhaps the most worrying trend is that some fisheries have failed to show any signs of recovery even after many years of protection. The best (or worst) example is the northwest stock of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) which in Canadian waters has been closed to fishing since 1990, and is now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).