Ocean Fish Could Be Extinct by 2048, Ecologists Warn

April 5, 2018 at 3:26 pm

There will be no more fish in the ocean in 30 years if we keep fishing at current rates, study warns

We’ve all heard the prediction there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, but according to one study, there won’t be any fish at all by 2048.

The study was conducted by an international team of ecologists and economists, who say ocean fish are disappearing at alarming rates due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.

A third of edible fish species have already declined by over 90 percent, say researchers from Nova Scotia, the U.K., the U.S., Sweden and Panama, who worked together to survey the world’s fishery populations.

“I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are — beyond anything we suspected,” said the study’s lead author Boris Worm, an ecologist and marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

“Unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the ocean species together as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood,” said study co-author Stephen Palumbi, a biology professor at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station.

“If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to sustain our lives at all,” added co-author Nicola Beaumont of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

The research team analyzed a 1,000-year history of 12 coastal regions around the world, including San Francisco and Chesapeake bays in the U.S., and the Adriatic, Baltic, and North seas in Europe.

They also looked at fishery data from 64 large marine ecosystems and 48 protected ocean areas.

The loss of species isn’t gradual, they say. It’s happening fast, and getting faster.

Worm and colleagues call for sustainable fisheries management, pollution control, habitat maintenance, and the creation of more ocean reserves.

“It’s not too late. We can turn this around,” Worm says. “But less than 1% of the global ocean is effectively protected right now.”

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