We’ll be out of seafood by 2048 at current pace of fishing

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Unless we make some changes, there will no more fish left to eat by 2048.

For every cute hamster and mouse café story I write, there’s a darker one waiting in the wings – I suppose there’s a reason I’ve been called “the guru of gruesome.” But seriously, there’s a lot in this world that needs attention beyond funny cat videos!

So, for this edition of “The Daily Gruesome,” I bring you: The end of fish.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the global fishing fleet is two to three times larger than what the oceans can sustainably support. Which means that we are removing more fish from the ocean than the ocean can replace.

And the endgame looks like this: “Unless the current situation improves, stocks of all species currently fished for food are predicted to collapse by 2048.” (And this isn't new news, but while TreeHugger has referred to this doomsday-for-seafood date before, we've never just fully addressed it head on ... and regardless, it bears repeating.)

While many fisheries are aware of the need to treat fish populations with care and respect, the greed and waste of some large commercial fleets combined with modern developments in fishing technology have had an enormous effect on fishing worldwide, notes WWF.

As of now, 53 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, and 32 percent are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.

In addition, inefficient, illegal, and destructive fishing practices lead to the careless deaths of other creatures essential to the ecosystem; think dolphins, marine turtles, seabirds, sharks, and corals.

Why is this happening? And how? The ocean is so massive, how are we depleting it so effectively? WWF lists several reasons: poor fisheries management; fishing pirates that don’t respect fishing laws or agreements; massive bycatch of young fish and other marine species; subsidies that keep too many boats on the water; destructive fishing practices; and unfair Fisheries Partnership Agreements that allow foreign fleets to overfish in the waters of developing countries.

Thankfully it’s not too late and there are a number of global initiatives and programs hard at work to reverse this depressing decline. And as WWF points out, they and many others are calling for “urgent and strong measures, including fishing bans, to be adopted and enforced at the United Nations level in order to protect these areas from fishing activities.”

As consumers, if we want to keep eating seafood, we have to support sustainable fisheries by buying sustainable seafood. Look for MSC-certified seafood products to ensure that your seafood did not come from illegally fished or overfished sources. For help in shopping, see WWF's seafood shopping guides here.

Next up, something cute and cheery, really.

Tags: Fish | Fishing | Oceans | Shopping | World Wildlife Fund

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