Aquaculture Key to Meeting Demand for Fish
FAO’s most recent global assessment of wild fish stocks found that of the 52 percent of the 600 species it monitors are fully exploited. Some 17 percent are overexploited, 7 percent are depleted and 1 percent are recovering from depletion.
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2. Corruption and fisheries
There are ample opportunities for corrupt practices to take place in fisheries. Corruption begins in institutions and eventually trickles down to the water. Corruption on the water is rampant in part due to the vastness and visual impermeability of the medium. It is difficult for enforcement efforts to locate fisheries corruption in the far reaches of the five oceans. But corruption in fisheries, just as in any other commodity, can occur through the entire chain of custody and this chapter explores corruption at each of these stages from the time a fish or invertebrate is taken from the water to the time it reaches a mouth.
Corruption occurs at the international level through bribery; the negotiation of access agreements between rich and poor countries, and by countries failing to meet their obligations under international agreements. Similarly, corruption occurs at the national and regional levels of fisheries management usually through statistical malpractices and officials accepting bribes. Processors, distributors and retailers are known to engage in corrupt practices through corrupt labor practices; and the renaming and mislabeling of fish and fish products in order to beat the law. Finally, fishers themselves engage in corrupt practices by fishing in excess of quotas due to (i) illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; (ii) discards; (iii) high grading; (iv) smuggling; (v) transshipments; (vi) mislabeling; (vii) piracy; and (viii) harass observers.
Internationally, the importance of non-compliance in fisheries was highlighted in 2001 with the endorsement of the International Plan of Action (IPOA) to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. Illegal fishing is widespread globally as depicted in Figure 1a below. Globally, IUU catches were an estimated 16 million tonnes in 2002 (roughly 20% of global catch) valued between US$2.4 and $9.5 billion (MRAG 2005). IUU fishing can lead to the collapse of fishery or impede efforts to rebuild depleted stocks (FAO 2001). Other types of corruption beyond exceeding quotas also exist in fisheries. Institutions facilitate illegal fishing, which undermines the management of the resource.
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Illegal fishing (IUU)
Vessel fishing illegally for Patagonian toothfish in waters south of Australia, being inspected by the Australian navy. Picture courtesy Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens costal communities, particularly in developing countries.
The EU is working hard to close the loopholes that allow illegal operators to profit from their activities:
Under recently adopted rules only marine fisheries products validated as legal by the relevant flag state or exporting state can be imported to or exported from the EU.
A European black list has been drawn up covering both IUU vessels and states that turn a blind eye to illegal fishing activities.
EU operators who fish illegally anywhere in the world, under any flag, face substantial penalties proportionate to the economic value of their catch, which deprive them of any profit.
The new EU regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing entered into force on 1 January 2010. The Commission is working actively to inform all parties on how to apply the new rules.
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Oceans have always been a major source of food for people from ancient times. The large-scale fisheries and exploitation of sea life by fishing companies has lead to drastic reduction in the population of many fish. One of the reasons for this appalling situation could be globalization. Shocking as it may seem, 25% of the world’s known fish species are on the brink of extinction thanks to over fishing. Tuna and cod are facing survival threats and unfortunately nobody seems to be interested in taking the responsibility. Nobody is able to predict the consequences of a damaged oceanic ecological system either.
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Bottom Trawling: Bulldozing the Ocean Floors
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When you think of the most destructive action that humans can do to the ocean, what comes to mind? I bet the term “Bottom Trawling” does not. Shrimp and other fish that live deep down in the sea are caught using this method. A net is connected to two multi-ton metal plates, which are dragged across the ocean floor as the net scoops up everything in its path. Similar to when we were kids in the pet store scooping the goldfish out of the tank; except on a scale many billion times greater.
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Shrimp trawlers, and their mudtrails, off the coast of the Jiangsu Province of China near the mouth of the Yangtze River in 2003
Scientists have known for years that when fishing trawlers drag nets and gear across the ocean bottom they trap or kill almost all the fish, mollusks and other creatures they encounter. And the dragging destroys underwater features like reefs, turning the bottom to mud.
Now, scientists have used satellite images to show fleets of trawlers leaving plumes of mud behind them like contrails. They hope the images will focus wider attention on trawling damage, and on the possible uses of satellites to monitor fishing…
Overfishing takes place when the fish are captured at a faster rate than they are able to reproduce. Today, 90 percent of the sea species at the top position in the marine ecosystems food chain or biggest predators, such as tuna, cod, sword fish and sharks have practically been eliminated or are in a situation of critical decline.
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Scientists estimate that if overfishing continues at this rate, certain fish will have become extinct by the year 2048.
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A study published in the journal Nature shows that 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world’s oceans in the past half century, a result of overfishing.
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