Friday, June 4, 2010

The Solution - Global Fishing Collaboration

Overfishing is a huge problem, so what can we do to stop it from happening?

 Current Solutions and Their Downfalls

When looking at past solutions and their failure a great example is the handling of the Newfoundland cod fisheries. The fix to the dwindling cod stocks was the establishment of the ICNAF, International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, which established TAC's, Total Allowable Catches, to slow the decreasing stocks. However, this organization failed to stop the overfishing. Let's look at a few reasons why this presumably effective plan failed.
  • Fishing is a very lucrative industry. It provides thousands of jobs to Canadian locals in Newfoundland which fuels the economy and also pumps millions of dollars to foreign nations who fish in international waters. This is very bad news for the cod as these companies and even whole countries pressured the ICNAF to raise the restrictions on the number of cod allowed to be fished.
  • Another reason that the restrictions failed was regulation. Since the ICNAF had limited resources it was unable to enforce all of it's restrictions. Factory boats and trawlers simply lied about the number of fish that they caught and there was no way to tell if the numbers provided were true or false.
  • The final reason the ICNAF was ineffective in solving the cod overfishing was their actual scientific information and lack outreach to the scientific community. Ironically, the ICNAF calculated cod populations based off the catch numbers of the companies who were overfishing. So as fishing technology improved and more cod were caught the ICNAF continually over estimated the number of cod and therefor set catch limits too high. This continued even though scientists and local fisherman told the ICNAF that the cod were decreasing.
So learning from these past solutions and their downfalls, what do we propose as a new solution? What we have come up with is a global organization that will aim to stop overfishing and promote alternatives to overfishing altogether.
    New Prevention Plan – “Global Fishing Collaboration”

    Goals) The overall goal of the GFC is to eliminate all forms of overfishing encompassing all species currently being over fished. The GFC also aims to educate the youth of the world on the damaging effects of overfishing to stop history from repeating itself and also promote alternatives to fishing.

    Action) The main action required to complete the plan is cooperation and support. In order to function correctly the most powerful and influential countries will have to sign and agree on the creation of the new organization so that it will have the power to persuade. Money and resources will also be required to carry out plans.

    Methods) The GFC has an arsenal of strategies to reduce overfishing. Previously, attempts to reduce overfishing have been treated with a pacifist approach. Those days are over. The GFC will issue mandates about how much a certain fish is allowed to be caught and where they can be caught. Countries successfully meeting mandates will be rewarded with money and support. On the other hand, countries that do not cooperate will be fined. If there are repeat offenses there is chance of an embargo by GFC countries and the most extreme, military force. Once again, this intimidation is required as simply words and documents are not enough to persuade the greedy fishing organizations. The GFC will also use new methods of stopping overfishing such as fish farming that would use environmental friendly products or setting up rotations of what fish are sold annually so that one fish is not in more demand then another.

    Success) Why will the GFC succeed? The first reason why is that it is needed. Once the GFC has completed it's goal of informing the world people will truly understand the destruction capability that overfishing has. The GFC is the answer to their calling. Another huge factor is support. If the GFC is approved and backed by multiple world powers other countries would have no choice but to meet their environmental standards.The GFC will also succeed as it will listen. The keyword in GFC is cooperation and that means on both parties.The GFC will listen to scientists around the world, they will listen to countries and what they think, and most of all they will listen to fisherman themselves to make the most informed decision possible.

    Time line) The formation and success of GFC would take about 15 years. The first 5 years would be founded in the United States of America. In this time, the program would be founded and begin work only in the United States. As time progresses the programs efforts in America will be noticed and the positive results of their work will provide concrete evidence to its effectiveness. Once that reputation is secured the next 5 years will be dedicated to gathering support. This is when representatives will visit other countries, committees will be organized, and world wide summits held. The last 5 years till full fledged operational status will focus mainly on resources. In this time headquarters will be constructed, enforcement fleets amassed, and scientists gathered. The GFC will eventually have to police the entire worlds ocean which would require massive amounts of bio-friendly ships, but anything can be done when people collaborate and cooperate.

    The Whalewars - A Horrific Story

    Here in America, the thought of hunting whales might seem a bit crazy. However, in Japan, whales are slaughtered every single day. In fact, the country of Japan hunts 1,000 whales in the Antarctic every year. Japan claims that the primary reason for killing these whales is to gather scientific research. However, controversy over whether the real reason these whales are being killed and overfished is to use whale meat in food has arisen. On June 9, 2010, a Japanese boat went out in the sea to catch a total of 260 whales throughout the summer. Japan states that they are slaughtering these whales so they can research the feeding patterns of these whales. The country of Australia is currently requesting international courts to take notice of the immense amount of whales Japan is slaughtering. If the overfishing of these whales keeps up, who knows how long it will be until they are extinct? As of now, the northern right whale, southern right whale, bowhead whale, blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, humpback whale, and sperm whale are all endangered. That list seems way too long.


    "Controversial Japan whaling fleet sets goal of 260 animals." Controversial Japan whaling fleet sets goal of 260 animals. CNN, 2010. Web. 9 Jun 2010. <>.

    Peru: The Connection Between Fish Meal and Anchoveta

    When a current of warm water hit the Peruvian coast so did small fish known as the anchoveta in the mid 1960’s. In Peru during the 1970’s these micro sized fish were being caught rapidly reaching up to sixty nine thousand tons, making it the world’s largest fishing industry. Two years later the daily amount of anchoveta increased by more than one hundred tons than it was previously. As the number of anchoveta fell sharply a herring ban was placed on this fishing to keep the anchoveta from becoming extinct in 1977.

    Filet o' Fish and It's Impact on Overfishing

    Every day, millions and millions of people all around the globe step into the golden arches, the fast food restaurant that we all know as McDonalds. Many people go up to the counter and politely ask for the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. These people are simply looking forward to enjoying a fish sandwich. Unfortunately, this sandwich is causing the overfishing of an innocent New Zealand fish- the hoki. Every single year, McDonalds alone uses 11 millions pounds of hoki. Other restaurants, such as Long John Silver’s and Denny’s, use hoki as an ingredient in some of their foods as well. As for the hoki, it is an endangered species and the World Wildlife Fund has expressed concern over the amount of overfishing that is occurring on the hoki.. So the question is, is it really worth hurting a species of fish and its ecosystem so Americans can eat an unhealthy fish sandwich? That’s up for you to decide, but we can tell you this much. “We’re not lovin’ it.”

    Icelandic Cod Wars - Overfishing's Impact

    Believe it or not, overfishing can sometimes lead to war. It can lead to soldiers of one country battling against soldiers of another country. A great example of this can be seen in the Icelandic Cod Wars. The country of Iceland lacks certain natural resources including timber, fuel, and minerals. However, one thing that Iceland has a whole lot of is cod. Iceland uses this cod to help its economy and certain industries. Because cod is so important to this country, Iceland began to overfish the cod. In 1958, Iceland changed the area in which it was allowed to fish for cod from 4 miles off the coast to 12 miles off the coast. By 1974, Iceland wanted to increase this area in which it was allowed to fish for cod to 200 miles off the coast. This angered the country of Britain because Britain did not believe that Iceland should be able to claim that much of the Atlantic Ocean. Britain decided to break the rules and fish in the areas that technically belonged to Iceland. Wars broke out on the sea as British boats clashed with Icelandic boats. And these wars started out with Iceland simply overfishing the cod.


    "Cod War in Iceland." Cod War in Iceland. Kwintessential, n.d. Web. 9 Jun 2010. .

    A Japanese Overfishing Crisis: From Bluefin Tuna to Sashimi

    About the Bluefin Tuna

    To describe the southern bluefin tuna, let's start with one word: HUGE. The southern bluefin tuna weighs approximately 440 pounds. Its body is extremely hydrodynamic and stiff, and its body temperature is warm, which allows the fish to swim at a very rapid speed.

    The southern bluefin tuna is located in many parts of the world. It can be found in three major oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. The southern bluefin tuna can reproduce when it is at an age of 8 to 12 years. Due to overfishing, the southern bluefin tuna is listed as critically endangered.

    The World Wildlife Fund expects the bluefin tuna population to be completely extinct by 2012.

    What is the problem with the overfishing of the southern bluefin tuna? Why is this problem occurring? How is it occurring?

    The reason the southern bluefin tuna is being overfished is because the fish has a lot of value. The southern bluefin tuna is used for sashimi, which is a Japanese food that consists of raw fish and sauce. The southern bluefin tuna's skin contains a lot of fat, which increases its value. In fact, just one of these fish can be worth $10,000 in the United States. High value, fatty skin, and a great ingredient in sashimi create a deadly combination that has led to the southern bluefin tuna being heavily overfished.

    There are several ways in which the southern bluefin tuna is being overfished. For example, in Australia, the method of purse seine netting is used to catch these fish. In purse seine netting, a large net that is secured on the bottom scoops up many fish at once. Another method known as longline fishing is used to catch southern bluefin tuna in countries such as New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan.

    What are some ways in which this problem affects the environment, other organisms, and humans?

    To get a good understanding of how overfishing of the bluefin tuna affects the environment, other organisms, and humans, we must first take a look at the food web to which the bluefin tuna belongs. The southern bluefin tuna is a part of the marine food web. This food web consists of over 300,000 marine species. The tuna is at the top of this massive food web. This food web begins with autotrophs. These are plants that use energy from the sun to create energy through the process of photosynthesis. The herbivores then receive energy by consuming the plants. Some examples of these herbivores are parrotfish, sea urchins, and manatees. The third trophic level of this food web consists of small carnivores such as snapper, mackerel, and other small fish. Then comes the tuna. The tuna sits at the top of the food web and feeds on smaller fish from the third trophic level. Sharks, which sometimes eat tuna, are also on this fourth trophic level, along with seals.

    If the southern bluefin tuna becomes extinct because of overfishing, it will impact the environment, other organisms, and humans. First of all, it will alter the marine food web. Sharks that receive energy from tuna will have to find other organisms to eat. Also,small carnivores on the third trophic level of the marine food web might become overpopulated because there will be no tuna to feed on them. If these fish become overpopulated, they could potentially exceed their carrying capacity, which is the number of organisms that an environment can support indefinitely. If the carrying capacity of these small carnivores is exceeded, the species be on the verge of a collapse. There would simply be too much competition for food among these organisms.
    The potential extinction of the southern bluefin tuna would also drastically affect humans. The sashimi market will be negatively impacted without one of its most prized ingredients. This could hurt the economy of many countries in Asia as well as the Oceania region. In addition, if the bluefin tuna becomes extinct, people all over the world would lack a nutritious source of protein that they once had before.

    Obviously, the overfishing of southern bluefin tuna is completely due to biotic factors, which are factors caused by living organisms. Humans are the ones that are responsible for fishing the bluefin tuna beyond its limits and causing the species to become critically endangered. The need for southern bluefin tuna to keep the sashimi business running smoothly is the main biotic factors that is causing the bluefin tuna to be overfished.

    The number of southern bluefin tuna has declined by 92 percent since the 1950s. Currently, it is critically endangered. The extinction of this amazing species of fish is not far away. If the World Wildlife Fund is predicting things correctly, then the southern bluefin tuna will be a thing of the past in just 2 years.


    "Bluefin Tuna in Crisis." WWF - Bluefin Tuna in Crisis. WWF, n.d. Web. 8 Jun 2010. .

    "Bluefin Tuna on The Edge of Extinction Due to Overfishing." Bluefin Tuna on the Edge of Extinction Due to Overfishing. Sincerely Sustainable, 9 Nov 2009. Web. 8 Jun 2010. .

    Harding, Ben. "Overfishing to wipe out bluefin tuna in 3 years: WWF." Overfishing to wipe out bluefin tuna in 3 years: WWF. Reuters, 14 Apr 2009. Web. 8 Jun 2010. .

    "Southern bluefin tuna." Southern bluefin tuna - Thunnus Maccoyii. Arkive, 2003-2010. Web. 8 Jun 2010. .

    "Marine Food Chain." Marine Food Chain -- National Geographic. National Geographic, 2010. Web. 8 Jun 2010. .

    Atlantic Cod - The Newfoundland Cod Tragedy

    Overfishing is a global problem that impacts all facets of life from the human economy to the natural environment. The act of overfishing is defined as fishing a certain species of fish to dangerously low levels which occurs when more fish are being caught then fish being reproduced.


    Atlantic cod are a part of history. Viking who settled in Newfoundland used the fish as a food source and survived because of it. The cod were so plentiful that when explorer John Cabot came to Newfoundland he reported, "the sea there is full of fish that can be taken not only with nets but with fishing-baskets". This attracted settlers from England and also Spanish, French, and Portuguese fishing boats to travel to the Great Banks and fish cod. However, these historic instances of fishing were small operations and not considered overfishing. But when advances in both in-shore and off-shore fishing technology arose huge overfishing problems occurred. In-shore boats were not equipped with fish finding technology, better nets, and better engines. But the most massive change was off-shore where engines allowed trawlers to drag huge nets across the sea and factory boats were invented which could catch, prepare, and freeze cod all on one ship and stay at sea for months. To put this drastic change in perspective, from the year 1647 to1750 only 8 million tons of cod were estimated to be caught. The word only is used because in the 1960's to the 1975's that same amount of fish was caught in a 15 year span compared to that 103 year span.

    That statistic alone is a tragedy, but it truly peaked in the 1990's. The increased technology, the ineffectiveness of the governing bodies, and greedy companies which blatantly over fished led to at least 6 cod populations collapsing. All six had lowered 75% in biomass, three has lost 90%, and the once abundant population of 'northern cod' had lost a tragic 99% of biomass. This extreme loss forced the Canadian government to shut the fisheries which led to a myriad of impacts. Below we will explore both the environmental and social impact of this cod tragedy.

     (This image shows how the catch increased dramatically and then fell when the ban on fishing was placed. If the ban was not placed the cod population could have been put on the verge of extinction)

    Below is an image of a factory trawler which led to the dramatic increase in Atlantic Cod being fished. If the correct bodies had regulated this large fishing boats then history could have been changed for the better.

    Social Impact

    A huge victim of northern cod overfishing were the people who lived in Newfoundland and depending on the cod for a living. These were the people who warned the government of depleting stocks, but were ignored. A whopping 30,000 people lost their jobs directly because of the fishing ban to stop overfishing along with another 10,000 who were indirectly affected by cutbacks caused by the ban. The government even had to provide assistance through money and job training to help fisherman find another lifestyle. But money alone cannot help heal the scar. The loss of cod is an emotional loss too. Generations of families have survived by fishing cod and with it being gone it is truly heartbreaking. As for the fishing cooperation who over fished off-shore, sadly, they've simply moved elsewhere looking for a new species to destroy. An interesting statistic is that cod was responsible for 48% of the money made from fishing in Newfoundland.

    Environmental Impact

    Although many people are concerned with the economic repercussions; the true victim of overfishing of Newfoundland cod is the cod themselves and the environment the cod live in. One huge impact is the food chain. Cod larvae eat phytoplankton, young cod feed on crustaceans, while older fish tend to eat smaller fish. When cod almost completely disappeared, levels of the food they eat skyrocketed as shown in the graph below.

    These new, large amounts of crab explain the reason why cod stocks have not replenished even after a complete ban. It is said that the crabs and small fish now feed on the cod eggs because a lack of larger cod cannot keep the crab and shrimp population in check. Ironically, most lost income in Newfoundland is being replaced with the new industry of shellfish. This upset in the food chain has also impacted the nitrogen cycle. There is less nitrate as more phytoplankton are now available to consume it.

    I want to stress that there has been no extreme result of overfishing of the cod in Newfoundland. But I will stress that continually stripping the ocean of it's natural resources cannot be a good thing. The fact that us humans are fishing to a point where entire populations of fish are disappearing is unacceptable. The results of what we are doing are not even known yet. But the fact that my children's children may not be able to enjoy the ocean because it has been so badly upset by overfishing is a scary thought.


    Marine Conservation Biology Institute. "A Run on the Banks : How "Factory Fishing" Decimated Newfoundland Cod." E, the Environmental Magazine: Current Issue. Web. 08 June 2010. .

    GreenPeace, The. "CANADIAN ATLANTIC FISHERIES COLLAPSE." Site Has Moved. Web. 08 June 2010. .

    MacKenzie, Debbie. "Cod Freeze to Death in Newfoundland." The Starving Ocean. 7 Apr. 2007. Web. 08 June 2010. .

    Rose, G.A. "Reconciling Overfishing and Climate Change with Stock Dynamics of Atlantic Cod (Gadus Morhua) over 500 Years." Web. June-July 2010. .

    "Cod Moratorium: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage." Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage/Patrimoine De Terre-Neuve Et Du Labrador--Entry Page: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage. Web. 08 June 2010. .

    Overfishing - A General Overview

    The purpose of this website is to inform the people of the world of the impcat of overfishing, why it should be permentantly corrected, and illustrate an actual plan to prevent it. As one would have noticed, the opening map page is a tool that can be used to learn about where overfishing is happening in the world and to learn about the specific details in that area. Below is a general overview of overfishing and how big of a problem it actually is.

    An Overview

    Overfishing is fishing a population faster then it can replace itself therefore decreasing the total population. The main species being overfished are larger fish such as cod, tuna, and swordfish. In fact, 90% of the large fish have been overfished to dangerous levels. Overfishing is such a serious problem because millions of people around the world rely on the ocean for a living and for food. If we fish our oceans the way we have been, it may damage the ecosystem to a point where our children's children may not be able to enjoy it the same way we have.

    To gain a perspective on how wide spread the problem is, examine the statistics below.
    • 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited
    • 20% are moderately exploited
    • 17% are overexploited
    • 7% are depleted
    • 1% is recovering from depletion

     Just imagine what will happen if we keep this up!
    Since so many marine ecosystems are being affected by overfishing, the entire stability of the ocean is being threatening by fishing industries. Many scientists argue about whether overfishing can truly damage the entire ocean, but with that imense number of fish being taken out of their natural habit it is common sense that after a certain amount of time something extremely bad is going to happen. Please visit the other areas of the site to learn more.


    "Overfishing - A Global Environmental Problem, Threat and Disaster." Overfishing - A Global Environmental Problem, Threat and Disaster., 28 Nov. 2007. Web. 09 June 2010. .