A species dubbed “the world’s most miserable-looking fish” is at risk of extinction due to poor fishing practices, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus), a gelatinous fish that lives at depths up to 800 meters, where it feeds on drifting organic matter, is being accidently captured by deep-sea trawlers seeking crabs and lobsters off southeastern Australia, according to Callum Roberts, a marine scientist with the University of York.
“The Australian and New Zealand deep trawling fishing fleets are some of the most active in the world so if you are a blobfish then it is not a good place to be,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “Blobfish are very vulnerable to being dragged up in these nets and from what we know this fish is only restricted to these waters.”
Little else is known about the species, which can reach a length of up to 30 cm (12 inches) and is regarded as inedible.
Roberts, who authored “The Unnatural History of the Sea”, said its apparent depletion demonstrates the destructiveness of bottom trawling.
“A very large amount of the deep sea is under threat from bottom trawling which is one of the most destructive forms of fishing,” he was quoted as saying.
Deepwater fish tend to be longer-lived than shallow water dwellers: some species, like the warty oreo (Allocyttus verrucosus) and orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus), may live to be more than 130 years old. Their slow reproductive rate, slow-growth, and delayed-maturity means they are especially vulnerable to overfishing. Conservation groups have recently warned that a number of deepwater fish stocks are at the point of collapse.
(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).
(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.