By Lidia Wasowicz
UPI Senior Science Writer
From the Science & Technology Desk
Published 5/14/2003 1:05 PM
A global survey spanning nearly half a century reveals a 90 percent plunge in the population of large ocean fish, from tuna to cod, since commercial fishing vessels took to the high seas, Canadian researchers reported Wednesday.
With their numbers decreasing by as much as 80 percent in 15 years, the depleted communities could crash delicately balanced ecosystems, with unknown worldwide consequences, the surveyors of pelagic creatures warned.
"More than 90 percent of the fish we like to eat are gone," said Jeremy Jackson, a renowned marine ecologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., who was not involved in the study.
The statistics -- which some industry scientists questioned -- emerged from a 10-year analysis of trawler surveys and U.S. and Japanese long-line fishing records compiled over 47 years for 62 predatory species.
"From giant blue marlin to mighty bluefin tuna and from tropical groupers to Antarctic cod, industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean," said lead study author Ransom Myers, Killam Chair in Ocean Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "There is no blue frontier left."
The sampling included fish inhabiting every ocean save the seas surrounding Earth's poles and those that dwell where continents submerge under the sea off the coasts of Newfoundland, Thailand and Antarctica.(more)