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News articles on overfishing

Mongabay.com news articles on overfishing in blog format. Updated regularly.









Indonesian coral reef recovering after devastating tsunami and years of destructive fishing

(01/05/2009) On December 26th, 2004 an earthquake recorded at a magnitude of 9.3 in the Indian Ocean created a massive tsunami that struck nations across the region. Enormous waves took the lives of nearly 250,000 people while destroying cities and towns in minutes. The tsunami also caused extensive environmental damage, including reef systems along many coastal areas. Four years after the tsunami researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have returned to site of the disaster to survey the damaged reefs and work with local communities on preserving this important resource. After exploring sixty sites of coral reef off the coasts of Aceh, Indonesia, the scientists report that reefs damaged by the 2004 tsunami are on the path to recovery.


Captive breeding of monster Amazon fish could feed people and save it from depletion

(11/26/2008) A new technique for sexing a giant Amazon fish may help create a sustainable source of protein in South America, report researchers writing in Fish Physiology and Biochemistry.


Sharks in trouble after nations fail to create sustainable management programs

(11/06/2008) Sharks are disappearing from the ocean at startling rates: currently one-in-five of these famous marine predators are threatened with extinction. According to a report from the Australian Government and TRAFFIC—an organization that monitors wildlife trade both legal and illegal—the collapse of shark populations is being caused largely by rising demand for shark fin in Asia. The report shows that legal fishing for sharks has become nearly as detrimental as illegal, since few fisheries have management strategies concerned with sustainability.


One-third of global marine catch used as livestock feed

(10/30/2008) Despite continuous warnings of emptying oceans due to overfishing, a new report finds that one-third of the world’s total marine catch is not feeding humans, but livestock. The fish are ground-up into meal and fed to pigs, poultry, and even farm-raised fish.


Mediterranean bluefin tuna originate in the Gulf of Mexico

(10/02/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown migratory route for the northern bluefin tuna, proving for the first time that the species' Mediterranean and North American subpopulations interact. According to the paper published in Science the two groups meet as juveniles then return to their birthplace to spawn. For a critically-endangered species that is still heavily fished, the new finding has large conservation and management implications.


A solution to worldwide fishery collapse?

(09/18/2008) In November 2006 a study on global fisheries received a lot of attention: employing 53 years worth of fishery data, Boris Worm predicted that by 2048 the ocean would be empty of fish. Essentially there would be nothing left to catch. Already, Worm reported, fishing stocks had collapsed in 29 percent of the world's fisheries. Although scientists called for rapid and overhauling changes to fisheries, the fishing industry carried on business-as-usual. Now, two years later, a study in Science proposes to have found the solution to the global fishery-collapse.


The long-ignored ocean emergency and what can be done to address it

(08/18/2008) This year has been full of bad news regarding marine ecosystems: one-third of coral species threatened with extinction, dead-zones spread to 415 sites, half of U.S. reefs in fair or bad condition, increase in ocean acidification, tuna and shark populations collapsing, and only four percent of ocean considered pristine. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of California, San Diego, synthesizes such reports and others into a new paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that boldly lays out the scope of the oceanic emergency and what urgently needs to be done.


How sustainable is your canned tuna? It depends on the retailer

(08/13/2008) To aid concerned tuna-lovers, Greenpeace has ranked eight of the top canned tuna retailers in order from most sustainable to least. Canned tuna from John West, the biggest retailer of tuna in the UK, proves to be the worst of the lot, whereas Sainsbury's is the most environmentally-friendly. In a press release Greenpeace said that Sainsbury's is "the only tinned tuna brand that is fished using sustainable methods".


The global rich are eating the poor's fish: new report shows tropical fish catch gravely under-estimated

(07/10/2008) After a week of bad news regarding marine life — it was reported that half of U.S. coral reefs are in fair to poor condition and one-third of all coral species are threatened globally — there is still more: a study of twenty tropical islands showed that recreational and subsistence fishing has gone almost completely unreported from 1950 to 2004. In fifteen of twenty cases the fish take was at least doubled when local fish catches were added, and in the most extreme case, American Samoa, the amount of fish collected was 17 times what was previously recorded.


1/3 of corals face extinction

(07/10/2008) Nearly one-third of reef-building corals are vulnerable to extinction, according to an assessment of 845 species of coral. Rising temperatures, increased incidence of disease, and human disturbance are driving the trend.


Large shark populations fall 97% in the Mediterranean

(06/12/2008) Populations of some shark species in the Mediterranean have plunged by more than 97 percent over the past 200 years, report researchers writing in the journal conservation Biology. Several species are at risk of extinction.


Greenpeace ship attacked by Turkish tuna fishermen during protest

(05/30/2008) Members of a Turkish tuna fishing boat attacked the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise while the ship was engaged in a protest against overfishing. The incident occurred Friday in the Cypriot Channel and was reported to the Turkish Iskenderun Gulf Port Authorities.


Shark-repelling fishing gear in the works

(04/23/2008) Fishing gear that produces an electric field in sea water could help prevent sharks from becoming accidental bycatch, say scientists at NOAA.


New 'red list' seeks to stave off global seafood collapse

(03/03/2008) Over-fishing and destructive fishing practices have had a considerable effect on oceanic ecosystems. In 2006 a highly-reported study found that without drastic measures all wild seafood will disappear from the oceans in 50 years. Greenpeace, working against such a crash, has started a campaign that highlights 'red fish'. The twenty-two 'red' species are seafood that consumers and suppliers (including supermarkets) should avoid due to their plummeting populations and/or the damage caused by harvesting them.


Tuna may go the way of cod: a collapsed fishery

(02/18/2008) The collapse of the cod fishery could provide important lessons to prevent a similar fate for some tuna populations, say researchers presenting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Boston on February 18.


Ocean trawling impacts can be seen from space

(02/16/2008) Bottom trawling, an industrial fishing method that drags large, heavy nets across the seafloor stirs up huge, billowing plumes of sediment on shallow seafloors that can be seen from space.


Digital maps and mathematical analysis could reduce fishing bycatch

(02/16/2008) Images of dolphins and turtles ensnared in tuna nets are a heart-wrenching reminder of the impact of fisheries on ocean bio-diversity. Known in fisheries science as ‘by-catch,' this killing of non-target species is a complex problem that has resisted easy answers.


Only 4% of the ocean is pristine according to first oceanic map of human-impact

(02/14/2008) There is a much used adage regarding the ocean that goes something like this: we know more about our solar system than our ocean. Whether or not one believes this to be true (less than 5% of the ocean has been explored), a group of over twenty researchers, by agglomerating the available information on the oceans, have created a large-scale image of the ocean's health.


Overfishing may hurt Amazon forest trees

(02/05/2008) Overfishing is reducing the effectiveness of seed dispersal by fish in the Brazilian Pantanal, reports Nature. The research suggests that fishing practices can affect forest health.


Rich countries grow at ecological expense of poor countries

(01/21/2008) The costs of environmental degradation caused by rich countries are disproportionately falling on the world's poorest countries, reports an analysis published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Stanford University, Monterey Bay Aquarium launch center to save oceans

(01/09/2008) Stanford University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have teamed up to establish the Center for Ocean Solutions, a new collaboration that will bring together international experts in marine science and policy to find innovative ways to protect and restore the world's oceans.


conservation promotes larger fish stocks and higher profits for fishermen

(12/06/2007) Using conservation techniques can promote larger fish stocks and higher profits for fishermen, reports a study published in the journal Science. The research suggests that industry opposition to lower catches in the short term, may be misguided.


Overfishing takes toll on Bluefin tuna

(08/06/2007) Overfishing has caused dramatic shifts in bluefin tuna populations that have pushed the species closer towards extinction in some areas, reports a series of studies by the Census of Marine Life (CoML) and other researchers.


Jumbo squid invade California waters, affecting fish populations

(07/25/2007) Jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) are invading California waters, putting commercial fish populations at risk, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


In Alaska, fishing industry drives marine conservation

(07/24/2007) Alaska's fisheries are some of the richest in the world, with fishermen harvesting hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of salmon, crab, herring, halibut, pollock, and groundfish every year. However, such bounty has not always been the case. Over-exploitation and poor fisheries management in the 1940s and 1950s took a heavy toll on the industry. Born of this difficult origin, today Alaska sets the bar in fisheries management. Unusually for natural resource management, industry is leading the way, relying on dialog with scientists to determine catch levels and where to designate "no-fishing zones", while pushing for certification standards for sustainable seafood products. These efforts are coordinated by the Marine conservation Alliance (MCA), an industry-backed nonprofit based in Juneau, Alaska. In July 2007, David Benton, executive director of the Marine conservation Alliance, spoke with mongabay.com about MCA's work in Alaska.


Wal-Mart demand drives "greener" shrimp farms

(07/24/2007) Wal-Mart's demand for sustainably-produced products is driving "greener" production of shrimp in Thailand, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).


Foreign fishing fleets deplete African fish stocks

(07/18/2007) Heavily subsidized foreign fishing fleets are depleting coastal fish stocks of poor Africa countries, reports The Wall Street Journal.


How long does it take reef fish to recover from overfishing?

(07/11/2007) Recovery of fish populations from overfishing can take decades, reports a new study based on 37 years of observations.


How to save the world's oceans from overfishing

(07/08/2007) Global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s, while about one-quarter of the world's fisheries are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Despite these dire trends, the situation is changing. Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on addressing the health of marine life and oceans, while sustainable fisheries management is at the top of the agenda for intergovenmental bodies. At the forefront of these efforts is Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's conservation program: the Center for the Future of the Oceans. The aquarium, which has long been recognized as one of the world's most important marine research facilities, is pioneering new strategies for protecting the planet's oceans. Sutton says the approach has four parts: establishing new marine protected areas, pushing for ocean policy reform, promoting sustainable seafood, and protecting wildlife and marine ecosystems.


Sharks do not win CITES protection

(06/08/2007) Two endangered species of sharks failed to win protection at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in The Hague.


Shark fin does not cure cancer

(06/03/2007) Shark cartilage, long believed in traditional medicine to be an anti-cancer agent, confers no health benefits in lung cancer survival reports an extensive study presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The lead author said the findings cast major skepticism on shark cartilage products that are being sold for profit and have no data to support their efficacy as cancer-fighting agent.


Chinese support shark conservation, but still demand shark fin

(05/25/2007) There is growing public support in China for shark conservation measures, but little understanding of the role of shark finning in declining shark populations, reveals a survey by WildAid, an environmental group.


Top ten threatened species named by WWF

(05/16/2007) The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced its top ten list for species in need of trade protection ahead of the upcoming Conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in The Hague, The Netherlands.


Deal to end destructive bottom trawling reached

(05/07/2007) Governments have reached a landmark agreement to end high seas bottom trawling in nearly a quarter of the world's oceans. Environmentalists say bottom trawling, which destroys reefs and depletes slow-growing fish species, is one of the world's most destructive fishing practices.


Deep sea fish growing slower due to global warming

(04/23/2007) Changes in ocean temperature have altered the growth rates of commercially harvested fish over the past century, according to a new study published in this week's early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Overfishing of sharks causing shellfish decline

(03/29/2007) Overfishing of large sharks is reducing the abundance of shellfish reports a study published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science. A team of Canadian and American biologists has found that population declines in large predatory shark species -- including bull, great white, dusky, and hammerhead sharks -- due to overfishing has led to a boom in their ray, skate, and small shark prey species along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Now these smaller species are depleting commercially important shellfish.


20 species of grouper fish are endangered

(03/21/2007) 20 of the world's 162 known species of grouper are threatened with extinction according to a survey by conservation groups. Grouper are popular food fish throughout the world, but due to their slow reproductive rates they are particularly vulnerable to overharvesting.


Sharks increasingly endangered as finning, overfishing take toll

(02/23/2007) Scientists added several species of pelagic sharks to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species after research found them to be more endangered than previously thought. Three species of thresher sharks were listed as Vulnerable globally, while the shortfin mako was upgraded (or downgraded depending on one's perspective) from Near Threatened in 2000 to Vulnerable and the scalloped hammerhead shark was moved from Near Threatened to Endangered. The decisions are based on work by the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group (SSG).


Global warming, cod collapse cause changes in Atlantic ecosystem

(02/22/2007) North Atlantic ecosystems are undergoing rapid change due to overfishing and global warming reports a Cornell University oceanographer in the February 23 issue of the journal Science. Charles Greene, director of the Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program in Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, says that while other scientists have argued that ecosystem change is the result of the population crash of cod, be has found evidence that climate change is playing a significant role in the region.


Government subsidies drive deep-sea fish depletion

(02/18/2007) Saturday an international team of economists and scientists called for a ban on government subsidies that drive deep-sea trawling. Biologists say the practice is destroying the world's fisheries.


10 commandments could save world fisheries

(02/18/2007) Global fisheries are in decline. Now a team of scientists have proposed a set of ten commandments to protect the world's marine fish populations while ensuring ongoing production of sea food in a sustainable manner. They presented their work Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.


Aquaculture key to seafood crisis

(02/16/2007) A scientific panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco Friday revealed that rising demand for seafood has exceeded the capacity of the marine ecosystem and that expansion of aquaculture will need to continue to help meet consumer appetite for seafood products.


Live fish trade causing massive depletion of coral reef species

(01/24/2007) According to a new study conducted by Cambridge University researchers off the northern coast of Borneo, the live reef fish trade is having a major impact on marine populations.


U.N. ocean trawling ban blocked by Iceland

(11/24/2006) United Nations negotiators failed to agree on a measure banning deep-sea bottom trawling, a practice that has been called highly destructive by environmental groups. Iceland, a country recently criticized for resuming commercial whaling, blocked the U.N. resolution.


Bottom trawling is ecologically destructive and should be banned says coalition

(11/15/2006) Deep sea bottom trawling is threatening marine ecosystems and biodiversity and should be banned said the Deep Sea conservation Coalition, an advocacy group representing more than 60 conservation organizations from around the world.


All stocks of wild seafood species to collapse by 2048 says new study

(11/03/2006) All stocks of currently fished wild seafood species are projected to collpase by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of the journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.


Commercial fishing can cause fish population imbalance

(10/18/2006) New research has found that commercial fishing can cause significant fluctuations in marine fish populations. Writing in Nature, scientists from several institutions and agencies argue that fishing can amplify the highs and lows of natural population variability.


Up to 73 million sharks killed per year for their fins

(10/04/2006) Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins according to a new paper published in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters. The estimates are three times higher than those projected by the United Nations.


History of the Chilean Sea Bass market

(05/04/2006) Today The Wall Street Journal ran an account of how the Chilean Sea Bass was first brought to market in 1977. Since its introduction, the species -- also known as the Patagonian toothfish -- has gone from being shunned to being welcomed at the worst's finest restaurants. But demand for the fish has taken its toll and the slow-growing species which takes 10-12 years to reach sexual maturity suffers from illegal over fishing in parts of its range. Some groups estimate that the illegal take may be up to five times the legal catch limit, leading some ecologists to predict the immanent collapse of the fishery.


U.S. fishing bycatch wastes 1 million metric tons of fish per year

(12/01/2005) A new study shows that for every five pounds of fish caught by U.S. commercial fisheries, one pound is dumped -- dead, dying and wasted. Each year, U.S. commercial fishing operations throw away more than one million metric tons of fish, an amount equivalent to 28 percent of all commercial landings and more than all of the fish landed on the East and West coasts combined.



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