Science & Nature

Dec 1, 2017

OCEANS IN ACCELERATED LOSS

Since the most remote times, fishing has been one of the great sources of food of humanity. The wealth of marine resources was always assumed to be an unlimited gift of nature.

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By NARUTO SHIZUKA

But, with the increase of knowledge and dynamic fisheries development since the 50's of last century, this myth has vanished in the face of intensive use of marine resources which, though renewable, are not infinite and need to be well managed so that it can give its contribution for the well-being of society.

Rampant fishing can be more harmful to marine ecosystems than pollution, warned the General Director of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Oceana, Monica Peres.

To the General-Director of the NGO, many people think that the oceans have a uniform distribution of life forms throughout its extension when, in fact, there are large aggregations of living beings in restricted spaces and huge areas devoid of life. When the fishing is made without the proper management in those areas in which life focuses, balance of ecosystems is threatened.

"Sometimes, fishing is done to remove a species which is abundant, but with them, appear species living many years and slow reproduction. These most vulnerable species can't handle the intensity of the fishing target species hold", defends Monica Peres, noting that it is necessary to protect species that are fished and used for food and the other, which, when falling in fishing nets, are returned dead to the sea without any kind of benefit.

"We need to respect the ability of those populations to maintain. All extraction of living resources has to be made within the body's ability to restore", she says.

Preservation and management actions, in the view of the researcher and fishing vessel owners, may contribute to marine ecosystems to be able to withstand the climate changes on the planet.

Threatened reserves

Already in 2010, the then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon reminded the world that "a large part of the resources that we assume as inexhaustible are severely threatened, implying deep impacts on ecosystems, economies and human livelihoods".

Since then, the intensification of industrial fishing has led to the extinction of traditional fishing practices that preserve the natural richness of the waters. Today, the fishing methods used are those that capture more fish in less time, ignoring the destruction of marine habitats and the disturbance of the whole food chain in the ocean.

The rate of consumption of fish products continues to grow at a rate higher than the rate of the world's population, placing existing fish stocks under enormous pressure (up to 2025 is estimated a population of 8.5 billion people, and a need of 162 million tons of fishing to ensure the 55 pounds of fish consumption per person and per year). However, the fishing industry, in most cases, seems to want to continue to turn a blind eye to the long-term viability of the sector, encouraging the overexploitation and uncontrolled in the race to catch the last fish of the oceans.

The consequences of gradual loss of marine life in the oceans could be catastrophic in the future. In fact, as researchers and several industry leaders say, European waters are practically exhausted. In the Pacific Ocean, the large foreign fleets are fishing to eliminate the only means of survival of the local coastal populations: tuna. Many African waters, who served as stage for the European and Asian fishing operations for many years, are now over-exploited or fully exhausted, with ships from the North to travel to South America.

This general alert for the crisis of the oceans, has encouraged an increasing number of consumers and of fishing vessel owners to defend that biodiversity is crucial to the existence of healthy and rich ecosystems.

With less than one per cent of the oceans protected and scientists pointing the imminent collapse of fish stocks, there is an urgent need to stem the loss of life in the oceans and respond to calls from the UN to protect the resources we consume.

SUSTAINABLE FISHING

Worldwide fishing is an activity of high social value and an asset to the economies, whose gradual importance in relation to other systems of food production has evolved, due to sustainable practice that the fishing industry has developed and the creation of work stations employment in the primary sector.

Governments and international organizations have adopted measures to promote the nutritional benefits and promote the consumption of aquatic products, stimulating its inclusion in the daily diet.

However, it is necessary to take into consideration the negative impact of fishing on ecosystems and the impacts or threats and restrictions on fishing in rivers or ponds.

As regards the mainland fishing, it should be valued especially by the relevance of the livelihood of the people. Fishing in the rivers and lakes should be a fundamental part of a community family whose livelihood depends on various natural resources, implicit in sustainable development for poverty reduction.

Therefore, investments in mainland fishing cannot be overlooked, since its captures in the rivers and lagoons allow enriching the diet and the surplus can be sold, providing supplementary income to families.

The same goes for the artisanal fishing in the sea, which creates thousands of jobs and ensures important income for the fishermen. These are the aspects which have collaborated in an essential way to increase the development of the fishing sector worldwide, where artisanal fishing in the sea and ponds and rivers already represents big income for the coastal fishing communities.

Fishing in the sea and the mainland fishing are sides of the same coin and not foreign bodies or discretized. Conventional aquaculture is profitable on the sea coast. But it should be made a strong bet on increased natural production of fishery resources, the experts argued.

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