Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Bottom trawling causes deep-sea fish populations collapse

Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Bottom trawling is causing “boom and bust” fisheries.

A new study using the Sea Around Us’ reconstructed catch data reveals that in the past 60+ years, the practice of towing giant fishing nets along the sea floor has caused the extraction of 25 million tonnes of fish that live 400 metres or more below sea level leading to the collapse of many of those fish populations.

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Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Thailand hides big numbers when it comes to its fish catches in neighbouring waters

Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Fish catches by Thailand’s distant-water fleet fishing throughout the Indo-Pacific are almost seven times higher than what the country reports to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a new study by the Sea Around Us reveals.

In 2014 alone, the Asian country caught 3.7 million tonnes of fish outside its Exclusive Economic Zone but reported only 247,000 tonnes. This figure, although substantial, represents a decline from peak numbers reached in the mid-1990s when the more relaxed rules of Thailand’s neighbours allowed for massive catches of over 7 million tonnes per year. Back then, as much as 80 per cent of the catch was unreported and much of it likely obtained illegally, the study reveals.

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Photo by Tak, Flickr.

Thought Antarctica’s biodiversity was doing well? Think again

Photo by Tak, Flickr.

Photo by Tak, Flickr.

Twenty-three experts involved in the study “Antarctica and the strategic plan for biodiversity,” recently published in PLoS Biology, debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a better environmental shape than the rest of the world. In fact, the difference between the status of biodiversity in the region and planet Earth as a whole is negligible.

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Photo by Elias Levy, Flickr.

Three cheers for biodiversity

Photo by Elias Levy, Flickr.

Photo by Elias Levy, Flickr.

Text by Daniel Pauly

Yes, the 6th Extinction is underway, and we are going to lose quite a bit of the Earth’s biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine, because of our agriculture, our fisheries, and because there are so many of us. But we should try to minimize the loss, using all the tools at our disposal.

One of these tools is slowing down, or even reversing, the rate at which we expand into and thus transform and ultimately destroy natural ecosystems and their biodiversity. On land, this consists of creating parks where the natural vegetative cover, notably forests, can maintain or reestablish itself, and provide habitats for animals that cannot live in landscapes shaped by agriculture.

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