The Environment

Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain

Last night while I was working out on the treadmill I watched, ‘The End of the Line’, a documentary about what over-fishing is doing to the oceans and how it is threatening the very existence of some of the fish you and I love to eat.  Imagine that your grandchildren may never taste a blue fin tuna!  I guess it takes a lot of fish to feed nearly 7 billion hungry humans but I really had no idea of how close to extinction many of these fish are.

And here’s another disturbing fact:  There is now 6 times more plastic in the oceans than plankton.  Each hour, North Americans consume and discard about 2.75 million plastic water and soda bottles; that’s 24 billion a year and that’s not counting plastic bags.  And, Each year, a million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic.  YUCK!  What are we doing???  Sometimes I think we’re all just sleep walking.  We’re told to work, eat, shop, watch TV and sleep.  Are we just going to sleep until it’s too late to make the changes that are necessary to leave some of what we’ve had in abundance (fish, real food, clean air, pure water, oil, coal and gas) for our children and grandchildren?  It’s time for a change.  Let’s wake up and take responsibility for what we are doing to God’s earth and start being good stewards instead of pillagers.  Our grandchildren deserve better!


Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain

View the original article by clicking here
May 14, 2003|By Marsha Walton CNN

A new global study concludes that 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world’s oceans in the past half century, the devastating result of industrial fishing.

The study, which took 10 years to complete and was published in the international journal Nature this week, paints a grim picture of the Earth’s current populations of such species as sharks, swordfish, tuna and marlin.

The authors used data going back 47 years from nine oceanic and four continental shelf systems, ranging from the tropics to the Antarctic. Whether off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, or in the Gulf of Thailand, the findings were dire, according to the authors.

“I think the point is there is nowhere left in the ocean not overfished,” said Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and lead author of the study.

Some in the fishing industry took issue with the tone of the report.

“I’m sure there are areas of the world with that level of depletion, but other areas are in good shape,” said Lorne Clayton, with the Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation, a foundation that supports the sustainable development of the tuna industry.

He said some abuses of the past have ended: Long drift nets are illegal, untended longlines are illegal, and many countries adhere to elaborate systems of licensing, quotas and third party observers working on boats.

Yet Clayton agreed that there remains much room for improvement.

“It’s important to keep these issues in front of the public. That puts pressure on the fisheries and agencies to keep cleaning up their act,” he said.

According to the report, the big declines in the numbers of large fishes began when industrial fishing started in the early 1950s.

“Whether it is yellowfin tuna in the tropics, bluefin in cold waters, or albacore tuna in between, the pattern is always the same. There is a rapid decline of fish numbers,” Myers said.

Co-author Boris Worm said the losses are having major impacts on the ocean ecosystems.

The predatory fish are like “the lions and tigers of the sea,” said Worm, a marine ecologist with the Institute for Marine Science in Kiel, Germany.

“The changes that will occur due to the decline of these species are hard to predict and difficult to understand. However, they will occur on a global scale, and I think this is the real reason for concern.”

Six times more plastic than plankton in the Pacific Ocean

More plastic than plankton in Pacific Ocean
Reese Halter |  Calgary Herald |  01.25.2009
Amass of plastic in the Pacific, increasing tenfold each decade since 1945, is now the size of Texas and killing everything in its wake.

Each day, North Americans throw away more than 385,000 cellphones and 143,000 computers– electronic waste is now the fastest-growing stream of garbage. Lead and mercury are seeping from this waste into ground water.

Most of this electronic waste is shipped overseas, where it is dismantled and burned, deleterious to the environment and human health. Some of the e-waste, however, is winding up in the sea.

Each hour, North Americans consume and discard about 2.75 million plastic water and soda bottles; that’s 24 billion a year.

Globally, 100 million tonnes of plastic are generated each year and at least 10 per cent of that is finding its way into the sea. The United Nations Environmental Program now estimates that there are 46,000 floating pieces of plastic for every square mile of ocean. Some of that trash circulating the globe is 30 metres deep.

Worldwide, each year 113 billion kilograms of small plastic pellets called nurdles–the feedstock for all disposable plastics– are shipped and billions are spilled during transfer in and out of railroad cars. Those spilled nurdles are ending up in gutters and drains and eventually carried into the ocean.

The U.S. produces about 6.8 billion kilograms of plastic each year and only one per cent of it is recycled. As a matter of fact, the average American uses 101 kilograms of plastic each year and by 2011 it’s projected to be as high as 148 kilograms per annum.

At least 80 per cent of the plastic in the ocean originated from the land. Thousands of cargo containers fall overboard in stormy seas each year. In 2002, 33,000 blue-and-white Nike basketball shoes were spilled off the coast of Washington.

Plastic in the ocean acts like sponges attracting neuron-toxins like mercury and pyrethroids insecticides, carcinogens such as PCBs, DDT and PBDE (the backbone of flame retardants), and man-made hormones like progesterone and estrogen that at high levels induce both male and female reproductive parts on a single animal.

Japanese scientists found nurdles with concentrations of poisons listed above as high as one million times their concentrations in the water as free-floating substances.

Each year, a million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic.

Nurdles resemble fish eggs or roe. Tuna and salmon feed on them indiscriminately. Around 2.5 billion humans eat fish regularly. Plastic and other man-made toxins are polluting the global food chain and it’s rising at an unprecedented rate.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually comprised of two enormous masses of ever-growing garbage. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California. The Western Garbage Patch extends east of Japan to the western archipelago of the Hawaiian Islands. A narrow 10,000-kilometre-long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone connects the patches.

The massive clockwise North Pacific Gyre is carrying plastic that is over 50 years old. Last year, plastic found in the stomach of an albatross had a serial number traced to a Second World War seaplane shot down just south of Japan in 1944 and identified over 60 years later off the West Coast of the U. S.

Currently, there is six times more plastic than plankton floating in the middle of the Pacific.

The North Pacific Gyre, its ocean currents and winds have essentially become a giant toilet bowl that regularly disgorges metres of plastic onto Hawaii’s Big Island. Kamilo Beach is often covered in plastic lighters, toothbrushes, water bottles, pens, nurdles, baby bottles, cellphones and plastic bags. About one half trillion plastic bags are manufactured each year around the globe.

Oceanographers and conservation biologists believe the only way to contend with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is to slow the amount of plastic flowing from the land to the sea.

Buy six organic cotton shopping bags. Use them instead of supermarket plastic bags. Make it a habit to return those bags to the trunk of your car after unpacking groceries.

Reuse your plastic water bottles. If you can refill one bottle for a day then why not attempt it for a week.

Thermal conversion landfills –like those of Golden Spirit Enterprises–will soon render all landfill trash neutral and prevent landfills from contaminating groundwater and haphazardly leaking the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere.

In the meantime, each of us must deliberately reduce the amount of garbage we generate and, in particular, the quantity of disposable plastic that are carelessly being discarded– because the ocean and all of its life forms are suffocating.

Dr. Reese Halter is a Conservation biologist and Founder of the international Conservation institute global Forest science. He can be contacted through



About Kim Martindale

Mother of two, wife of one, home manager, gardener, student of health and wellness, world traveler, nature lover, researcher, Jesus follower, community builder. I'm seeking to become resilient and to live sustainably. I desire to give back and share what I'm learning with others.


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