Water And Oceanography

Measuring the Health of the Worlds Oceans



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Overfishing and Byfishing are destroying the world's oceans and aquatic life.

Oceans Food Web:

The definition of a food web is a complex of interrelated food chains in an ecological community. The community we need to be concerned with is the oceans of the world. The food web in the world's oceans are now in distress, and it is time for steps to be taken to help the food web recover, and soon.

The Oceans Ecosystem:

The loss of marine biodiversity is profoundly reducing the ocean's ability to produce seafood, resist diseases, filter pollutants, and rebound from stresses such as overfishing and climate change. A law first introduced in 1976, in the United States made it illegal to fish a species that did not have time to renew itself. Reintroduced in 1996, there was little done to make sure the law was enforced. Finally, in 2006, there was a new twist put into the law that added stringent rules to prevent overfishing. The last revision is governed by scientists to make sure that certain species will not become over-fished. The law consists of an "annual catch limit" this law will begin in 2010, and for those who do not follow the law that protects 48 species are counting down to the deadline, the punishment has yet to be established for those who break the new law; though it is already speculated, the punishment will be harsh. (Designer, 2007)

The Trouble of Overfishing:

The problem with overfishing has been around for many years. In 1996, Dr. Frederick Sia commented, "It took 10,000 lifetimes for the world's population to reach two billion people. In the course of a single lifetime today, it is increasing to three times as many, and within another lifetime could double again." (Sai Dr., 1996) This is significant to the problem of overfishing; the human population is growing so rapidly and the aquatic population is shrinking at an alarming rate. For the ocean to continue to produce seafood may depend on how this situation is handled now. In October 2007, the United States population hit 300 Million. The shores of America show long-time fishing has made it impossible for many species of fish to keep pace with the American appetite for such staples as cod, red snapper, and salmon. (Brown, 2006)

Seafood is an important issue for humans, though overfishing is a larger problem for the ecosystem of the oceans and this will have a major impact on the world if there are no solutions found soon. The fishing industry has created this problem with the high-tech fishing tools and other sophisticated instruments that are currently used. The super-sizing of the ships that are now in the many commercial fleets and the efficiency in which the fishing industry now has is damaging our oceans at an alarming rate. (Berg, 2007)

Byfishing:

The meaning of byfishing is to catch accidentally; many do not realize the destruction it does to sea mammals such as dolphins and other aquatic animals like sea birds and sea turtles. Reportedly, worldwide there is approximately 60 billion pounds of unattended sea animals caught annually, that represents 25% of the overall worldwide catch. (Environmental, 2003) This area needs research to find a way to eliminate or at least ease the problem of byfishing.

The largest problem of overfishing is how to police the oceans of the world to enforce such laws. The massive size of the ocean alone suggests it cannot be policed; add into that the possibility of all the countries of the world adopting the same laws. The chances seem slim. The best we can do is to make sure the United States police our borders and make sure that laws and solutions that are set in place are followed. This in itself will be a major undertaking. Fishermen do not believe there is a problem in the oceans and state that their catch has not been affected. Although, they do acknowledge if there is a problem they want more research to confirm what the scientist have been saying is true. Clearly understanding this is their livelihood and wanting to maintain a healthy environment. (Declining Fish Stock VLR)

The answer is to do the best that will accommodate both the scientists that are trying to find a way to control the problem of overfishing and the fisherman that make their living on the sea and count on this industry to survive.

The harm to the ecosystem is vast. Scientists believe it is reversible though it will take many years and cooperation from the entire world to set it right. If it is able to recover then measures must be in place so this devastation will never again occur. (Declining Fish Stock VLR)

Possible Solutions:

As simplistic as this may sound, if the consumers of fish would make it a priority to know which fish are endangered, and stop purchasing that species, this is an effective and easy measure a single person or family can make; if there is a drop in the demand there is a drop in the fishing of these fish.

Is it possible there is a solution to this worldwide problem? The answer is yes. This will not be an easy solution, nor will the solution be one that will please all concerned. Fishermen want a solution that will not eliminate jobs; scientists want to block areas of the ocean to stop the overfishing (Declining Fish Stock VLR). Neither can be totally accommodated. However, by implementing a few simple steps it could be a good beginning to satisfy both and set an example for the worlds fishing industry.

The first step is to make fishermen become more responsible. Though it could not be done worldwide immediately, everything must start somewhere. What better place than the U.S.A. To begin a project of this size, it is very important for the fishing industry to police its self with overseers to make sure things run properly. To start, the nets that fishermen take out on their ships must be counted both before the ships, leave the docks, then again when they return to shore. Only allowing X number of nets on each trip, depending on the size of the craft. Making sure the nets that are returned and are counted, understanding there are some that will be lost and it may become important to have certified divers aboard in case nets need to be retrieved. This plan will not save all the aquatic life that is endangered but this is one small step. Not only will this plan limit byfishing, it will also slow overfishing in the oceans the United States are now fishing. This would help to satisfy the scientists. If there are displaced fishermen, there will be a large need for certified divers. Fishermen who are able to dive, or learn to dive and wish to become certified will be in high demand and will be able to work on the ships in both capacities, partially satisfying the fishermen.

Excellent example of a solution at work:

The Island of Palau is having success in reversing the affects of.overfishing. In two simple steps, they have reversed the devastation of overfishing in 10 years. Elders of the island knew that by rotating the areas that were fished would help the overfishing problem. The President of Palau designated 30% of its shoreline to conservation; it seems this island has found the way to reverse the affects of overfishing. Could these be the answers to overcome the issue of overfishing? Is it as simple as going back to the old methods followed by our ancestors? Results suggest yes, these methods used in Palau are very significant. (Palau, 2007)

E.O. Wilson, of Harvard University coined the phrase "very stuff of life," (Writer, 2003). Wilson suggests that biological diversity, genetic diversity, ecosystems and habitat diversity may play a role in how our oceans replenish themselves by evolving through genetic diversity. Wilson adds there are so many; possibly millions of species left undiscovered in the oceans, it is possible this will be what evolves into the oceans marine life. Wilson flirts with the idea through interbreeding and the amazing way some of these species adapt to change in their environment. Will this be the ultimate answer we are left? Possibly, yet there are so many avenues yet to travel.

Conclusion:

The marine food web was explained showing why it is important to the oceans ecosystem. The damage byfishing and overfishing has done to the ecosystem and the aquatic ocean life. By discussing these elements, these problems were capitalized on and solutions offered. Finally, a systematic plan was offered to help solve the devastation overfishing has caused the species of the ocean.

It appears from researching and preparing this information; the best point of action may be something that our ancestors practiced as the Islanders of Palau discovered. As consumers, we need to choose the type of fish we buy if more people will pay attention to which fish they eat, and stay informed on which are endangered and buy a different type, this will send a message to the fishing industry in the price they receive, which will change what they fish. There is proof these very elementary steps could make a huge difference in helping to solve the problem of overfishing.

References:

Berg, L. R. (2007). Visualizing Environmental Science. Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.A.:John Wiley
Brown, L. (2006, October 4). Truthout Environment. Earth Policy Institute:
http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/65/22998
Collins, J. (2001, February 1,). Diving into Oceans. UWC Enviro Facts:
http://www.botany.uwc.ac.za/Envfacts/dive/
Declining Fish Stock VLR. (n.d.). Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A.
Designer, R. (2007, April 19). Regulators seek ways to prevent overfishing.
http://www.mun.ca/research/funding/federal.html
Environmental, M. I. (2003, June). Ecological Consequences of Overfishing.
Why Cover Overfishing:
http://www.environmentwriter.org/resources/articles/0603_overfish.htm
Pala, C. (2007, April 17). In a Pacific island village, a solution to overfishing.
Solution to overfishing:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/17/news/fish.php?page=2
Sai Dr., F. T. (1996, October). Putting People First. International Lecture Series on Population Issues:
http://www.un.org/popin/popis/journals/dateline/date9610.html

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