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May 18, 2010 07:08 PM

UN report: earth to run out of ocean fish within 40 years?!?


scary stuff:

  1. The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is going to shorten the time frame to about 10 years. But BP will continue to turn a profit.

    3 Replies
      1. re: chipman

        There are many. You think the BP spill is not going to have a huge effect on seafood in the US and beyond? Do some research.

        1. re: pikawicca

          I don't want to speak for chipman, but I believe he was referring to your statement that it would "shorten the time to about 10 years."

          Sure, it's pretty obvious the oil spill will have an effect on Gulf Coast seafood and marine life, but do you have hard scientific evidence that the oil spill will actually shave 10 years off the expected lifespan of ocean life (as described by the UN report and assuming the UN report is to be believed)?

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. And the big surprise is? The planet only has so many resources, yet its population continues to rise. Duh. Better get some of that fish in before it's all gone '-)

        5 Replies
        1. re: linguafood

          If you actually read the whole article, that report makes no such claim that we will run out of ocean fish within 40 years.

          1. re: hobbess

            I think your splitting hairs. I read it three times and the implication is unsustainable harvesting is completely outstripping current commercial stocks of desirable species. The hope hinges upon governments imposing restrictions on fishing. That's worthless in most conservationists' minds. If one looks at the current situation with sharks and the finning that has spread worldwide, it's a hopeless cause to depend of government action. The oceans are far too vast to police, governments with vested interests will not act, and the average consumer cares little or knows nothing of their buying habits' consequences.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              You might consider it splitting hairs, but I thought it was an important distinction to point out for those who might not read the whole article between the difference what the title claimed that every single fish in the ocean would disappear in 40 years and what the article actually said.

              1. re: hobbess

                No one knows at this point what exactly will happen in forty years, so anyone's claim can technically be valid as anyone else's. I apologize if I'm rubbing you the wrong way - not my intention - but I tend to side with the worst case scenario in cases like this - my view is we don't want to head down a slippery slope. It's kind of like the argument that our nation should briskly pursue a new energy policy that reduces the amount of dependence on fossil fuels as soon as possible. Not doing so only creates the probability of potentially disasterous consequences - we see that playing out before our eyes right now. Moreover, this particular disaster will obviously have severe effects on this current subject of fish stocks depletion. With hurricane season about to start - and it's projected to be as bad as the one five years ago - the Gulf, the Caribbean, and eventually the Atlantic will be severely trashed by the amount of oil that continues to spew from that pipe that should have never been laid.

                There are so many factors that continually come up that seem to compound the inevitability that fish stocks will crash. There are very few oceanic areas in the world that are still relatively pristine and will eventually be affected in one way or another because we as a species ignore the long term consequences of our ways.

                So getting back to just about anyone's scenario being technically valid. Again, siding with the worst case scenario and acting accordingly to prevent this can only do good. Let's say that I'm 50% wrong - that only half of the estimated depletion occurs - is that reason to applaud and fall back to raking the seas and destroying habitat? Again, we don't know what the long term consequences will be from this kind of exploitation - the world has never seen anything like all of these major factors that affect the world's fish stocks coming to these low levels. Once a large number of species are reduced to unsustainable populations, there will be some sort of consequence. We just don't know enough about so many of these species that we have no idea how the dynamics will play out. This is a fool's game. By expecting the worst and preparing for it, we can only benefit from this.

                In the rain forests and tropical reefs, there is a phenomenon that is called, "the edge effect." This is where the effect of total human exploitation upon the surrounding areas of an otherwise pristine ecosystem are noticeably affected as well. The outer edges of the pristine area are not normal habitat - it is affected by wind, temperature swings, encroachment of invasive/non-native species, etc. Ultimately, the outer edges die off/transform into wasteland and the encroachment and transformation continues until nothing is left of the original environment. This implies that as humans disturb natural systems in a dramatic way, those systems have a strong probability of disappearing or being transformed into something else.

                I'm not a gambling man. I feel I know a fair amount about the ocean, as it was an avid source of interest for me since childhood. And as the saying goes, the more one learns about something, one realizes how little he or she knows. I've been fortunate to dive around the various oceans and seas over the years,. I've learned about the various life forms, what function they play, how they eek out a living, and how fragile so many are if even subtle changes occur to their habitat. Yet I don't know nearly enough to put all the pieces together. And I think most are like me. Very few have a hunch of what is going on, and even fewer can give a strong prediction as to what will happen. So if the OP and the article sound alarmist, I would give that a heavy dose of respect and side with caution.

            2. re: hobbess

              I didn't read the article at all, nor did I make any claims. I assume you were replying to the OP.

          2. Not to get too political here, but reports such as this always fail to take into account what scarcity does to prices, and therefore consumption.

            When anything gets harder to find, its price goes up, and people buy less of it. It's not as if bluefin will continue to be pulled from the oceans at exactly the same rate until BANG it's all gone forever. They used to practically give away monkfish, skate and all sorts of other fish that I can no longer touch for less than $12 - 20 a pound. Yet I can get lovely frozen sardines or mussels at prices that are an utter steal because they're easy to catch or farm.

            Bureaucrats such as those at the UN Environment Program's green economy initiative have a vested interest in painting worst-case scenarios, because that's what effects action (and keeps them in a paycheck). As the old axiom in medicine goes, if you study bacteria for a living, you suspect a bacterial cause for every illness first and foremost.

            I'm not implying malfeasance necessarily -- I'm just pointing out how these things work, regardless of the political viewpoints motivating them.

            1. Funny, the title reminded me of the Seinfeld ep where George had to come up with a brilliant comeback...George was pigging out on shrimp at a meeting and one of the other guys said "Hey George, the ocean called...they're running out of shrimp".

              I don't know if the "price goes up, consumption goes down" model will necessarily work...there are plenty of examples where scarcity just makes people more eager to get the last of whatever is scarce: the tragedy of the commons.

              We certainly won't run out of all fish, but every time one species goes, there are unintended consequences all up the food chain.