The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has generally shown itself to be ineffective in its mandate. Indeed, some have suggested with a fait bit of validity that the acronym more accurately expands to “International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.” A panel including experts from Canada, Japan, and Australia has now published a report with similar conclusions, saying that the organization is “”widely regarded as an international disgrace” and that there have been widespread failures in reducing illegal fishing, providing accurate catch data, and maintaining proper monitoring arrangements. When it appears that even Japan might be willing to back a moratorium on bluefin tuna fishing, you can be sure the situation is dire.
Unfortunately, the global record on fisheries management overall is dismal. Even the Alaskan pollock fishery – considered by many to be one of the most sustainable in the world – has seen a population drop of 50% since last year. The problem is simple to explain and very challenging to solve. There are too many people fishing with gear that is too good. Not enough parts of the sea are set off as safe havens for marine life. Pollution and climate change are also having an impact. Politicians are too spineless to stand up to the fishing lobby, not even in order to defend the public good, but to stop that very industry from destroying itself in our lifetimes. The industry needs to be much smaller and much more tightly regulated; the most destructive gear needs to be banned; monitoring needs to be improved; and states must prove themselves willing to enforce the law.
The chances of all that happening are fairly slim. All told, global fisheries provide one of the most acute examples of where human beings are weighing so heavily on the planet’s physical and biological systems that collapse is rapidly approaching.
Prior related posts:
- Seafood harm reduction
- Some respite for bluefins
- Tuna farming
- Fishing and restraint
- Overfishing and the EU
- Here come the jellies
- Trouble with aquaculture
- New UNEP report: ‘In Dead Water’
- Fishing should never be subsidized
The Shifting Baselines blog is also an excellent source of fishery-related news.