POINTS OF VIEW:|
Sylvia Earle, Deep Ocean
Exploration and Research
Although we talk about
harvesting the sea, it's a misuse of the word if ever there
was a misuse. We donít plant fish in the ocean. We go out like
hunters and gatherers, track them down, find them, extract
In half a century we have lost on the
order of 90 percent of the big fish in the ocean. I say lost,
actually, we havenít lost them. We've consumed them. Weíve
eaten them. Weíve captured them.
Though our fish markets may give the
impression of an inexhaustible resource, what we are really
seeing is the consumption of the final 10 percent of the
Carl Safina, Blue Ocean
About a quarter of everything that is
caught in the ocean, is not wanted or not marketable or not as
valuable as some of the other catch so it goes overboard.
As northern waters have been depleted
some of the fishing boats from places like Europe are turned
south and have started fishing very intensively off African
Itís sometimes very easy to get depressed
about a lot of bad news in the ocean. And the oceans are sick
but they are not dying yet. They, they may be down but they
are by no means out.
Roger Payne, Ocean
One point eight billion people have as
their principal source of animal protein fish from the sea,
seafood basically, and what happens if you remove from those
1.8 billion people their major source of animal protein? Well,
I think you have a problem.
We could be the most beloved generation
that ever lived or we could be the most vilified generation
that ever lived because people will know that we understood
the problems and didnít do anything about them.
We have always been drawn to the edge of the sea, to the rhythms
of nature, the power of the surf, and the urgency of the tides.
Above all, we were tempted by the mystery of the unknown. But when
we finally found ways to venture into the deep, what we discovered
was beyond our wildest imagination.
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Beneath the surface was an unspoiled universe of natural beauty,
a living tapestry of biological diversity, a landscape overflowing
with the promise of an inexhaustible resource. But contrary to what
we always believed, the abundance of ocean animals is in reality, an
Beach, Florida, USA
Today, our oceans are fast becoming dead zones, and marine
animals are telling us that something is going terribly wrong. Their
mute pleas speak volumes about the unfolding drama. What was once
ablaze with color, is rapidly becoming a world without life. How
could we have allowed so many of our marine animals to be on the
brink of extinction?
Our search for an answer to this question begins seventy-five
miles off the coast of New England where a sixty-foot trawler is in
search of Atlantic cod. Tony Sao Marcos is on the first leg of a
two-week trip. At first light the crew begins setting the first drag
of the day. They work with a sense of urgency. To cover the cost of
the trip, and earn a decent wage, they must catch at least 3000
pounds of fish each day. Once the drag is set, all they can do is
wait. These are uneasy hours, everyone knows that New England's Cod
catch is at its lowest point in recorded history. But the crew has
few options. This is the life they have chosen.
New Bedford Docks
Tony fishes out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Today much of the
commercial fleet here lies idle. Marine scientists have found that
the cod fishery, once the richest in the world, has almost
disappeared. Peeling paint and rusting hulls are symbols of an
industry and a community in trouble.
Back on board, after almost two hours of trawling the crew
anxiously waits for the drag net to come aboard. When the catch is
finally counted, it becomes clear that this will not be their lucky
day. Instead, they have become victims, struggling to survive in
world where many ocean species are nearly gone.
Stalking the world's oceans are thousands of giant 400-foot
trawlers. Some people call them floating "fish factories", others
call them "killing machines." With nine thousand foot nets sweeping
up everything in their path, these ocean monsters are literally
clear-cutting the deep sea. They can catch as much as one million
pounds of fish in a single day. Ironically, the commercial fishing
industry calls it "the harvesting the world's oceans." But
harvesting implies planting. The reality is the industrial trawlers
of the world simply wander the seas, scooping up whatever they can
The urgency to avoid the loss of the world's
ocean animals presents us with enormous
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Day and night these floating factories process and freeze
everything right on board. Whatever is un-saleable is
discarded. The amount of bycatch is staggering. Each year over 50
billion pounds of fish are killed and then thrown back into the sea.
The impact on the developing world is enormous, particularly on the
fisheries off the coast of Africa, in places like Senegal. There,
local fishermen can't possibly compete with mechanized trawlers from
distant shores. The result is severe food shortages for those living
along the coast.
This raises a fundamental question that is at the very heart of
our investigation. What is it in our nature that has allowed us to
put so many people and the animals they depend upon in such
The urgency to avoid the loss of the world's oceanís animals
presents us with enormous challenges. What we need now are the
efforts of people everywhere, all those who are willing to find ways
to strike the right balance, between what we want, and what nature
Though separated by distance and culture, for the six and a half
billion people who draw sustenance from the rich diversity of the
natural world, there are common bonds. Bonds that are renewed by
each generation, bringing new ideas, new attitudes, new hope for the
state of the ocean's animals.
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