Pacific bluefin tuna are in trouble — they’re at just 2.6% of historic, pre-fishing levels. They have been overfished and this overfishing is still continuing. Due to this dire situation, proper management of the stocks is increasingly important, yet information of the fish’s life history and migration patterns is limited.
Developing nations, which have contributed little to the issue of climate change, are likely to experience reduced livelihood opportunities and emerging dietary nutrient deficiencies as a result of climate change impacts on fisheries.
Due to the expansion of fishing practices, fish catches have become stagnant at best while global fishing efforts continue to grow, ultimately creating major stresses on marine resources. Fisheries impacts on both coastal and deep-sea ecosystems are well understood and documented; however, the biological and ecological impacts of fishing on open-ocean systems are not well studied or documented.
Continuing on the tone set during the first day of the UN Ocean Conference, day two showed the engagement and commitment of many nation states, NGOs, businesses and other stakeholders to achieving SDG 14 ‘Life Below Water’. It featured two important plenary meetings and partnership dialogues addressing targets 14.2 and 14.3: managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems, and minimizing and addressing ocean acidification. During those meetings, the need for enhanced international cooperation to address the common challenges were emphasized; with, for example countries such as the Soloman Islands, Israel, Tuvalu and Estonia expressing commitments to minimize ocean acidification.
The UN Oceans Conference and Sustainable Development Goals: Are partnerships providing the way forward?
The global oceans provide hundreds of millions of people with livelihoods, food and nutritional security, and are crucial for employment, economic development, and export earnings in many countries and coastal communities around the world. The status of these important ecosystems and its fisheries resources are however rapidly declining, following decades of unsustainable exploitation patterns, overcapacity, and unsuccessful governance interventions.
Off the northern Andaman coast of Thailand, marine protected areas have been established to protect the vibrant coral reefs and underwater ecosystems. But underlying the good intentions of those promoting marine conservation are unintended consequences – that small-scale fishers and indigenous Moken communities were restricted from fishing and harvesting in the area with no other livelihoods options provided.
Any trip to an aquarium or seafood market reveals the incredible variety of fishes. These fishes not only differ in how they look, but in traits related to life history. Life history traits include maximum body size, longevity, age at maturity, and fecundity – the number of eggs produced. Fishes that have the same phylogeny, or evolutionary history, share similar traits. Conversely, unrelated fishes occasionally evolve similar traits independently.
Nereus Program Manager Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor was a panelist at the seminar “Charting A Sustainable Course: Exploring Canada’s Fisheries” hosted by OceanCanada and the Vancouver Aquarium on April 11, 2017. The event was in the format of a casual panel discussion; the panelists provided insight on current issues and future projections for local, Indigenous, recreational and commercial fisheries in Canada.
By Richard Caddell, Nereus Program Fellow at Utrecht University
It is increasingly evident that profound changes will be necessary to current fishing practices in order to meet future global demand for seafood. Many fisheries are already operating at or beyond their ecological and economic capacity, while climate change and associated processes are projected to have significant impacts upon the future distribution of fish stocks.