Monday, July 23, 2012

Marine Ecosystems Severely Threatened by Overfishing: Exclusive Interview with Marine Biologist Dr. Boris Worm

Every corner of the Earth's oceans has been impacted by commercial fishing, and many commercial fisheries are now in a state of collapse, warns Dr. Boris Worm, a prominent marine biologist and primary author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Science entitled, Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services ( (Science, November 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5800, pp. 787 - 790). The plundering of the world's seafood populations is not sustainable, warns Dr. Worm in this exclusive interview with NaturalNews editor Mike Adams. The rapid depletion of important predator species like sharks -- combined with the loss of slow-growing marine mammals such as whales -- is causing a dangerous imbalance in the sustainability of ocean life. From the commercial harvesting of krill to the cruel practice of "finning" sharks, humans are impacting marine ecosystems in a short-sighted and dangerous way, warns Dr. Worm. The full interview (approx. 45 minutes) is available for downloading right now from NaturalNews: (Health Ranger Show #73). Not all the news about commercial fishing of the world's oceans is bad news, however. Dr. Worm points to some important success stories of sustainable commercial fishing operations (including certain aquaculture farms), and he urges consumers to inform themselves about the origins of seafood so that they might make better decisions when buying seafood at the grocery store or ordering it at restaurants. At the same time, Dr. Worm warns listeners that unless these success stories are embraced and applied across the board, much of the seafood humans now catch and consume could be virtually nonexistent by the year 2050. Important words from Dr. Boris Worm Here is a quick summary of the most important points heard in this interview with Dr. Worm: • Human activity is now dominating the circumstances and destruction of many marine species. • A decline of 90% of the population of many marine species has been documented. • Fisheries around the world are now in serious trouble; changes are needed quickly to reverse the decline of marine species. • There are ways of solving the problem, and there are success stories in sustainable fishing. We must learn from these success stories and apply them globally if we hope to prevent further declines in the populations of marine animals. • Global fishing could be virtually wiped out by 2050 if drastic changes are not made in sustainable fishing practices. • Ocean ecosystems have reached a limit where humans are taking too much out while dumping too much waste into the oceans. • Overfishing is the largest single impact on marine ecosystems today. • Overfishing is now spreading from coastal areas to the deep sea. • There is no ocean on the planet that has not been impacted by commercial fishing. • The fishing of sharks is a great threat to marine ecosystems. The practice of "finning" sharks is devastating shark populations and ultimately upsetting the natural balance of the web of life in our world's oceans. • Shark protection groups you should know about include: Shark Alliance (, Longitude 181 ( (French), Oceana (, The Ocean Conservancy (, Greenpeace ( • The Antarctic ecosystem has been changed greatly by commercial fishing and the removal of whales. • Consumer Choice cards are available at the Monterey Bay Aquarium ( that teach consumers which fish are unsustainable (such as Chilean Sea Bass or Orange Roughy) and should therefore be avoided by consumers. • Commercial fishing operations invent new names of fish to replace traditional names that aren't very marketable. The "Slime Head Fish" was re-named to "Orange Roughy" to make it more palatable to consumers, for example. • In the EU, ocean products must be properly labeled with their true name (scientific name) and place of origin. In the U.S., no such labeling laws currently exist. • The Marine Stewardship Council certifies the eco-sustainability of fisheries. It is a globally-recognized and well-trusted eco-certification authority. ( • Commercial fishing of krill (a "foundation species") is "very risky" to the delicate marine ecosystems of the Antarctic and can "compromise the entire ecosystem." • "There is good evidence that recent declines in the number of penguins around Antarctica is linked to the diminishing supply of krill," says Dr. Boris Worm. • It is absolutely true that there are millions of tons of floating plastic debris in the Pacific ocean which is resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals each year. • "There is no doubt that the amount of trash in the ocean is a major contributor to mortality in mammals, fishes and seabirds." • It's true that cruise ships still dump many types of garbage directly into the ocean. Dumping plastic is banned, but military vessels are exempt from such provisions and may regularly dump plastics directly into the ocean. • There is currently virtually no enforcement of dumping restrictions on any ocean-faring vessels. Essentially, any ship can dump practically anything directly into the ocean. • When aquaculture farming uses wild-caught fish to feed farmed predatory fish, it is very wasteful and damaging to ocean ecosystems. But when aquaculture farming is pursued with marine species that feed on plants or phytoplankton, it is the most sustainable, ideal way to produce seafood. • Tuna aquaculture farming is extremely inefficient, running at a 10-to-1 ratio (ten pounds of fish fed to the tuna for every pound of tuna produced). • Tilapia is typically produced in an environmentally-friendly way, using mostly plants as the feed source. • Aquaculture mussels are a sustainable choice, as they are not taking resources away from the marine ecosystems. • Fish that are fed other fish in aquaculture farms tend to function as pollutant concentrators, collecting heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in their flesh. • Want to protect the marine ecosystem? Educate yourself about sustainable sources of seafood and change what you buy at the grocery store or order at a restaurant to avoid buying unsustainably-harvested seafood. • A good website for royalty-free ocean conservation photos is • Another great website for learning about sustainable seafood is • Scientists have a very important role in making decisions about creating a more abundant, sustainable future. Scientists need to be allowed to practice good science and engage in public conversations about what they're finding, without political censorship. NaturalNews Donates $5,000 in Advertising to Ocean Conservancy Groups I was so inspired by this interview with Dr. Boris Worm that NaturalNews has pledged a donation of $5,000 in advertising space to non-profit ocean conservancy groups. If you represent a group such as Oceana (or a similarly-focused non-profit organization), please contact NaturalNews through our feedback form at: The only requirements for receiving free advertising space on NaturalNews is that you formally request the donated ad space on your organization's letterhead and you provide a 300 x 250 jpeg ad image that we may post. Contact us to get this started. NaturalNews is dedicated to protecting all animals on our planet, including marine animals. This $5,000 donation of advertising space is just the beginning of our efforts to promote the knowledge that is necessary for humans to live in balance with a sustainable marine ecosystem. Please also consider making a tax-deductible contribution to ocean conservancy groups of your choice. And listen to the full interview with Dr. Boris Worm to learn why ocean conservation is so important: Additional information about Dr. Boris Worm In my view, Dr. Boris Worm is among the most important scientists now reporting the truth about the alarming impacts of commercial fishing in our world's oceans. His work deserves your attention and your support. Currently, Dr. Worm does not have a blog site or a book, but he told me he may consider such things in the future if there is enough interest from the public. If he does start a blog site, we will announce it on NaturalNews. Here are some additional facts about Dr. Boris Worm: Professor of Marine Biology Dalhousie University, Halifax, Novascotia Author of: Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services Science 3 November 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5800, pp. 787 - 790 Abstract: Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible. Authors of the paper: Boris Worm,1 Edward B. Barbier,2 Nicola Beaumont,3 J. Emmett Duffy,4 Carl Folke,5,6 Benjamin S. Halpern,7 Jeremy B. C. Jackson,8,9 Heike K. Lotze,1 Fiorenza Micheli,10 Stephen R. Palumbi,10 Enric Sala,8 Kimberley A. Selkoe,7 John J. Stachowicz,11 Reg Watson12 1 Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4J1. 2 Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA. 3 Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK. 4 Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, Gloucester Point, VA 23062–1346, USA. 5 Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, SE-106 91 Sweden. 6 Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, SE-104 05, Stockholm, Sweden. 7 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA. 8 Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92093–0202, USA. 9 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 2072, Balboa, Republic of Panama. 10 Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA. 11 Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. 12 Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4. 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