"When you're young, you look at the world and think what you see has been that way for a long time. When you're 5, everything feels "normal." When things change in your lifetime, you may regret what has changed, but for your children, born 30 years later into a more diminished world, what they see at 5 becomes their new "normal," and so, over time, "normal" is constantly being redefined to mean "less." And people who don't believe that the past was so different from the present might have what could be called "change blindness blindness." Because these changes happen slowly, over a human lifetime, they never startle. They just tiptoe silently along, helping us all adjust to a smaller, shrunken world."
Since 1950, one in four of the world’s fisheries has collapsed due to overfishing. 77 percent of the world's marine fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or slowly recovering. The cod fishery off Newfoundland, Canada collapsed in 1992, leading to the loss of some 40,000 jobs in the industry. Twenty years later, the fishery has yet to recover.
Scientists estimate that 90% of the world’s large fish have been removed from our oceans, including many tuna, sharks, halibut, grouper, and other top level predators which help maintain an ecological balance. Of the 3.5 million fishing vessels worldwide, only 1.7 percent are classified as large-scale, industrial vessels, yet these vessels take almost 60 percent of the global fish catch.
Tuna purse seine vessels using Fish Aggregating Devices entangle and kill a million sharks a year in the Indian Ocean alone. Every year, the world's fishing fleet receives roughly $30 billion in government subsidies. Most of the subsidies are given to the large-scale, industrial sector of the fishing industry.
Industrial fishing fleets kill and discard about 27 million tons of fish on average each year. That means that one-quarter of the annual marine fish catch is thrown overboard dead. For every kilo of shrimp landed, over 10 kilos of tropical marine life is caught and dies.
Bottom trawling, a fishing method which involves dragging giant nets and chains across the seafloor, damages fragile corals and sponges which provide habitat for fish and creates scars on the ocean bottom which can even be visible from space.
Globally more than US$20 billion is lost to pirate fishing each year, much of which involves European or Asian vessels. The United Nations estimates that Somalia loses US $300 million a year to the pirates; Guinea loses US $100 million.
The Patagonian toothfish (often sold as Chilean sea bass) fisheries around Crozet, Prince Edward and Marion Islands were fished to commercial extinction in just two years.
Commercial fishing boats also kill tens of thousands of albatrosses and hundreds of thousands of other seabirds, mostly by longline fishing. Considering that albatrosses can live 50+ years, and take over 5 years to reach breeding age, this is an unsustainable loss of a truly impressive species.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald