Tuna stocks down 74% – can the world respond in time?

Yellowfin tuna
Public Domain Wikimedia

Here's some disturbing news from The Guardian: The World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London have published new research suggesting fish stocks for the scombridae family of fish—which includes tuna, mackerel and bonito—are down 74 percent since the 1970s.

Whether it's overfishing, marine pollution, loss of coastal habitats like mangroves, or the ever growing threat of climate change and ocean acidification, there are plenty of reasons for this disturbing decline—and I suspect most TreeHugger readers are familiar with the disastrous way that human beings have managed our oceans.

That said, however, there are hopeful signs that folks are beginning to take this seriously.

In separate news, for example, Chile is planning one of the largest marine reserves in the world around Easter Island—ready to encircle 447,000 square kilometres of ocean. And some retailers are beginning to get serious about more sustainable fish. Meanwhile, California just passed a ban on plastic microbeads in personal care products and, earlier this year, Sri Lanka became the first nation on Earth to protect all of its remaining mangrove forests and commit to planting more.

From seals returning to the River Thames to mercury levels in fish declining when we reduced our burning of coal, we've already seen that nature can often come bouncing back once we give it a chance to recover.

But once something is gone, it's truly gone. So we might want to get serious about protecting our oceans before it's too late.

Tuna stocks down 74% – can the world respond in time?
Tuna and mackerel have been hit hard by pollution and overfishing. But all is not yet lost.

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