From Scientific American Observations:
Overfishing and pollution have pushed life in the high seas to the brink of collapse, according to a new report from the Global Ocean Commission. “The oceans are a failed state,” David Miliband, co-chair of the commission, told Reuters.
The report warns that a combination of technology and big fuel subsidies have enabled industrial fishing fleets to heavily exploit 87% of the fish species there. Eighteen countries hand out billions of dollars in subsidies; the United States bestows fleets with $137 million for a catch worth $368 million.
Read the rest at: Scientific American Observations blog
This is the first I’ve heard of fishing subsidies, but it stands to reason they’d be there right alongside the equally damaging oil drilling subsidies and farm subsidies. So, thanks to subsidies, we pay for our fish dinners three times. First by paying over one third the value of the entire catch to fishermen, to overfish. Then by buying fish (and fertilizers and pet food) that are overpriced because the supplies are dwindling. And our final payment – a depleted ocean.
Here’s a story I’ve avoided telling for years because it upset me so badly that I couldn’t mention it without screaming:
Once upon a time, I walked into an upscale suburban supermarket and nearly fainted in the seafood
section. It was enormous. They had every kind of sea creature on display. Seven bins of different kinds of clams, shipped in from all over the world. An equally over the top selection of oysters. Whole sea bass, snapper, salmon and a huge halibut were laid out on beds of ice. The arms of a giant octopus were draped artfully around mounds of shrimp, mussels and scallops. There was far too much food for one community to eat before it all went bad.
I roused myself from my shock and asked the fellow behind one of the counters what would happen to all this if it wasn’t sold in time. He said, “Oh, we figure the waste into the price.” He honestly thought my concern was for the store’s bottom line.