Overfishing is taking a toll on the ocean. For decades this has been an international issue and now it threatens the vitality of the Earth’s most valuable natural resource. Rosenblum and Cabra write about this issue in the NY Times article In Mackerel’s Plunder, Hints of Epic Fish Collapse, citing the jack mackerel as the latest victim in a sea of overfishing:
“The fate of this one fish reflects a bigger picture: decades of unchecked global fishing pushed by geopolitical rivalry, greed, corruption, mismanagement and public indifference.”
While marine biologists agree that a total ban for at least five years to replenish the jack mackerel population is crucial, the fishing industry is unlikely to make this sacrifice. And while many countries have evaded the issue of overfishing, it is apparent that soon there will be no problem to evade. Fish populations are steadily declining and without more regulation, especially where China and Russia are concerned, the ocean will soon be depleted.
Chile and Peru, examples cited in the article of countries hard hit by overfishing, are at the end of the rope. An excess of four million tons was fished in Chile in 1995, a number that is eight times more than the sustainable measurement today. Additionally, in the last decade Chile fished 72 percent of all the jack mackerel in the southern Pacific. In Peru, the second largest country where fishing is concerned worldwide, fishmeal exports of the anchoveta are quantified at $1.6 billion annually. Thus the country is slowly losing a vital part of their economic exports.
“In the end,” argues Dr. Daniel Pauly, the oceanographer, “this global trend will not change unless a major power — the European Union or the United States — takes firm action.”
Despite the fact that delegates from 20 countries around the world have joined together in an effort to reduce overfishing, the impact of their action is minimal. The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, formed in 2006 with the aim of protecting fish in the region, has taken steps to curtail the issue but many believe like Dr. Pauly that it will take a major world power such as the United States or the European Union to intervene before any efforts are realized. We have to wonder how necessary it is for all of us to continue demanding the right to consume this fish on a regular basis under these circumstances.