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Oceans Empty By 2048? 589

F34nor writes to mention a CBS news article about the depopulation of ocean species. According to a study by a scientist in Halifax, Nova Scotia and assisted by research from all around the world, the world's oceans will be emptied of large lifeforms by 2048. From the article: "Already, 29% of edible fish and seafood species have declined by 90% — a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries. But the issue isn't just having seafood on our plates. Ocean species filter toxins from the water. They protect shorelines. And they reduce the risks of algae blooms such as the red tide. 'A large and increasing proportion of our population lives close to the coast; thus the loss of services such as flood control and waste detoxification can have disastrous consequences,' Worm and colleagues say."
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Oceans Empty By 2048?

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  • Harrumph (Score:2, Funny)

    by daeley ( 126313 )
    Sounds fishy to me.
  • Every bit helps (Score:3, Informative)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @01:32AM (#16713097) Homepage Journal
    Next time at the super, buy farm raised fish. Every little bit helps, and not supporting the trawler factories that empty the ocean is a good small step you can take yourself.
    • Next time at the super, buy farm raised fish.

      Tell that to the Japanese []

    • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @01:53AM (#16713243) Homepage
      The fish stocks are declining to the point of extinction simply because the human population is too large. There is not enough fish to satiate the appetites of all 6 billion people.

      Buying farm-raised fish is not the answer. To raise such fish, the farmers harvest other fish from the oceans in order to feed the fish on the farms. The end result is still the depletion of the wildlife in the oceans.

      The only and correct solution is to stop growing the human population. However, no one wants to talk about over-population because talking about it usually elicits accusations of "bigot" or "racist".

      The political mantra in the USA is that growing the population is wonderful. Both the "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ) and the "New York Times" (NYT) supports it. Both the WSJ and the NYT argue that unfettered immigration enriches everyone; talk about over-population runs contrary to unfettered immigration.

      Over-population reminds me of global warming. Both are very serious problems, yet most people just do not feel the immediacy and seriousness of these problems. So, they hesitate to do anything that is substantive in fixing these problems -- until the day that the huge calamity (i.e. famine or environmental disaster) hits.

      • ... the appetites of all 6 billion people.

        Hmm, I was always (back in Soviet Russia, really!) taught that these 6 billion people look forward every day towards some bread... Or rice... (In rare years we were not at war with -- equally "Communist" -- China).

        What makes you think all of The World's Underprivileged People are going to go after the bluefish tuna tomorrow, if I may ask?

        Paul B.

      • by debilo ( 612116 )

        The fish stocks are declining to the point of extinction simply because the human population is too large. There is not enough fish to satiate the appetites of all 6 billion people.

        True, but there doesn't need to be enough fish to feed 6 billion people. There are many other food sources, and as usual, a healthy mix does the trick.

        Buying farm-raised fish is not the answer. To raise such fish, the farmers harvest other fish from the oceans in order to feed the fish on the farms. The end result is still t

      • Given a workable renewable energy policy based on infinite area solar power satellites the Earth plus the neighbouring space could easily support about 100 trillion people. All you need is localized glass-bubble ecospheres seeded with life from Earth, and put these glass bubble rotating space stations in a daisychain following Earth's orbit, then make some more chains closer and farther to the Sun than Earth. There is lots of room out there, and lots of solar energy flying off into nowhere when the Earth is
      • I don't see what unfettered immigration has to do with overpopulation. If anything it reduces population growth. While it is true immigrants have higher birthrates than their those in their new country, it is also true they generally have lower birthrates than those in the country from which they came. I've heard the claim that people move to have more space so they can have larger families but that doesn't hold up empirically. People move for money, not space.

        Immigration is generally from poor cou
    • Farm-raised fish, alas, have their own impacts. If the fish are high on the food chain (like salmon), somebody has to go out and catch fish to feed the farm fish. Plus fish farms cause pollution that impacts the wild environment. Finally, there's a lot of fear that farm fish will be hot zones for diseases that will spread to wild fish. No magic solution here.

      The real solution consists of simple, common-sense resource management. You don't fish species that are obviously in trouble. You set aside zones for

      • Yep, farmed salmon won't save us. The farms here in BC import pellets made from fish protein harvested in South America to feed the farmed salmon. It's NOT protein efficient. Imagine catching wild meat like deer or ducks and grinding them up to make food pellets to raise pigs or cows. We wouldn't do that, but for some reason it's OK to do the same for aquaculture. Out-of-sight out-of-mind, I guess.

        Mind you, some types of aquaculture are better. I think the linked article mentions clams and catfish whi
        • Imagine catching wild meat like deer or ducks and grinding them up to make food pellets to raise pigs or cows.

          They did it in Europe and all we got in return is Mad Cow Disease and its sibling the wonderful Creuzfeld-Jacob Disease that turns your brain into mush.

    • Yeah, except that farmed fish lack all the health benefits that are supposed to go with fish. You might as well get a steak, it's cheaper and nutrionally superior.

      The problem has nothing to do with people eating fish. It's more to do with the fact that for every fish caught for food, a hundred more are caught to be ground up and used in various animal feeds and fertilizers, as well as the fact trawlers destroy vast tracts of the seafloor ecosystem so thoroughly that regrowth can take centuries. Banning

  • Less Supply = Higher Price
    Higher Price = Less Demand
    Less Demand = Fish Population Increases

    If a can of tuna went for $300 dollars because of a tuna shortage, I bet a lot of people would start cutting back on their tuna consumption.
    • by dduardo ( 592868 )
      Also, I doubt the fishing industry would want their business to collapse.
      • by node 3 ( 115640 )

        Also, I doubt the fishing industry would want their business to collapse.

        That depends. Can the "fishing industry" make decisions regarding it's furthered survival? It can't if it's run Laissez-Faire style. In such a case, if you decide to hold off on overfishing, someone else will just take your place. In non-regulated capitalism, doing the *right* thing is often also the *stupid* thing.

        On the other hand, if there's a strong, viable international body which oversees and regulates the fishing industry--and I

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Psychotria ( 953670 )
        No? There are lots of examples of industries that have collapsed because of over exploitation. The fact is, the fishing industries probably don't care (or worry) about the collapse--they can worry about that once it does (the word "greed" comes to mind here).
    • by Duhavid ( 677874 )
      Not if a hamburger was $400.00.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Less Demand = Fish Population Increases

      Ecosystems don't work that way. Fish need a certain population density to breed properly. They don't use singles bars like us humans.

      The linear relationship you assume exists...doesn't.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) *
      The question remains though, is that enough?

      You can only depopulate a species so much before their chances of survival as a speicies (even after you stop farming them) goes down. There has to be enough of them to create stable populations, find mates, and produce enough new young to continue the population.

      Do we know how close any of these species tipping point towards extinction is to the price point where demand drops low enough for them to recover?

      My guess is that would be a very hard question to answer.
      • The risk of a population bottleneck is the problem. If the population drops below some level, then it can be almost impossible to recover decent levels of genetic diversity. This means huge risks of disease sweeping through the population, as well as things like the spread of deleterious mutations.

        Many posters in this thread seem to think economic supply and demand will stop overfishing in time, but this is not necessarily the end of the story.
    • by debilo ( 612116 )

      Less Supply = Higher Price Higher Price = Less Demand Less Demand = Fish Population Increases If a can of tuna went for $300 dollars because of a tuna shortage, I bet a lot of people would start cutting back on their tuna consumption.

      It doesn't always work that way. For example, real caviar is so expensive that only very few people can afford it, yet many types of sturgeon are endangered, and we have to resort to other means (such as aquaculture []) to keep the species from becoming extinct. What I'm tr

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by node 3 ( 115640 )
      You fail at economics.

      If tuna went for $300/can, it would be even more aggressively fished, not less.
      • The main reason it would cost $300 is because it would take almost that much investment to actually produce that can of tuna. A tuna boat spending a month at sea and bringing back 10% of the fish they currently do means the cost jumps almost 10 fold (fixed cost of operating the boat stays constant, variable cost of canning the tuna is relatively small).

        Supply and demand affect price, but price also affects demand. If after all those factors are combined you're not beating the ROI you can make elsewhere,
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Economics has this concept called a "demand curve". Demand for tuna is elastic.

        Try looking at it this way. With tuna at $300/can, the market for it is people who (1) can afford $300 for a can of food and (2) think tuna is the best way to spend the $300. A small fishing fleet would suffice to serve that kind of niche market.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by victim ( 30647 )
      I'm sure the passenger pigeons will be comforted by your unwavering faith in free markets.
    • The first two are correct, but the third line should be

      Less Demand = Fish Catching Decreases

      Unfortunately, less fishing does not have to mean that population increases, only that is decreases less. That is no guarantee that catches reach sustainable levels, and it seems quite unlikely given the example of the levels in todays equilibrium.

      If there was private ownership of meaningful parts of the ocean, the profit motive would ensure that only sustainable amounts be taken. I hear Iceland and New Zealand have
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeremi ( 14640 )
      If a can of tuna went for $300 dollars because of a tuna shortage, I bet a lot of people would start cutting back on their tuna consumption.

      If tuna fisherman could get $300 for every can of tuna they sold, I bet they'd be a lot more motivated to catch every last tuna they could find. How much do you suppose the last tuna on Earth (ever!) would sell for?

  • I'd be investing in technologies designed to perform the ocean species' duties on a mass scale.

    If we can build massive floating factories that sweep away the sea life, then maybe, just maybe, we can build ships to clear out toxins and drive back the red tide of algea. It seems like that's about our only hope.

    We wanted to control our environment and Nature said: "Good, then you can do this stuff too! How about balancing ocean life? Would you like to maintain a protective ozone, too?" So far, our answer ha
  • Start stocking up on canned tuna, especially when Safeway is having a sale. The person with the most canned tuna in 50 years becomes an instant zillionaire on the black market.
  • By 2048, won't we have most of the Ocean's life DNA on backup storage drives, so we can recreate any animal as needed per zoo? Nah, probably not 2048, more like we'll have the DNA, but won't be able to create animals until 2150 or so. I'm seriously not hopeful in this technology, just raising a dull point.
    • Just for the record, since you're being a bit tongue-in-cheek, a healthy population needs genetic diversity, else you have a dead-species-walking that will die off from weakness or disease. That's why endangered species' have problems that don't go away even if their numbers bounce back. Just for the record.
  • So in 2048, we'll have 8 billion people and no fish. Time to buy stock in Soylant Green.
  • by Tester ( 591 ) <> on Saturday November 04, 2006 @01:52AM (#16713223) Homepage
    The solution is painful, but simple. Commercial fishing has to disappear. Already half of the world's fish consumption is fish-farmed. In the same way that we don't allow commercial hunting of land animals, we'll have to forbid commercial fishing. It's true that for now farmed fish is most of the time not as good as the hunted one, but its just a matter of time before we improve the technology enough to fix the problem.
    • It's not end commercial fishing. It's end BAD commercial fishing.

      The Pacific NW supplies a large amount of fish to the Pacific ocean. US fishing rules are pretty strict, but made around sustainable numbers.

      Japanese though, still take flipper in their nets. They sit at the 9 mile limit. Remember the ship that went aground a few years ago in Oregon? Japanese fishing trawler. These few nations are having a huge impact on fish and don't care about reigning them in. And for once, the US isn't a nation th

    • by Shihar ( 153932 )
      Good luck. We can't get Japan to stop harpooning whales, and you think that we could get the entire world to stop fishing? Ha! You might as well tell all the pacific ocean nations to go fuck off and die.

      To make matters worse, you can't actually farm many fish. One day we might have the technology, but currently there are many fish that we simply can't farm. Even the one's that we do farm we tend to feed with fish caught in the wild.

      I am not saying that we shouldn't do anything, just that the political
    • by jbertling1960 ( 982188 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @03:34AM (#16713837)
      Fish farming, particularly sea cage farming of saltwater species, has plenty of problems itself. The big five appear to be:

      the wastes produced by farming
      the fish that escape
      the diseases and parasites that occur in farms
      the chemicals used to treat diseased fish
      the problems of stock depletion and contamination of feed.

      See: [] fishfarms-712.html [] on/ [] roblems_muchalat0205.htm []

      And many others.

      What I find to be self evident is that the real issue is simply to many people, not enough planet.
      • Obviously, implementation of this one is difficult, but I read an article about fish farming in huge warehouses in urban environments. There were actually a lot of benefits, including separation of fish and less occurance of disease. I'm not a fish farmer, but perhaps a mechanized urban fish farm in every city would solve all this. Help us plan better for off planet living, too....

  • What is interesting about this, is that nearly all the govs. of countries who depend on the fisheries are quickly denying that this is an issue. Long before the fisheries are truely wiped out, we will see countries start invading each others fishery water. I suspect that large western govs. will very shortly start working on making sure that fisheries will be available for the future. But, their goal will be for local feeding. 20 years from now, should prove to be very interesting.
  • Some loony liberal pinko hippy commies will tell us that we are running out of oil ,and there is global warming looming? NONSENSE!
  • by rubberbando ( 784342 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @02:04AM (#16713309)
    So long and thanks for all the fish...
  • Fish in the open sea are a classic example of a Boston Commons type problem. The problem is that no one owns the fish stocks but everyone takes from them. So its in each player's best interest to pillage as many fish as possible before the other players can get to it. Until someone owns the fish, this problem will only accellerate. For more info, see game theory in mathematics or the B.C. problem in economic theory.
  • and think this was about the future of the George Clooney franchise Ocean's ??. My first response was, Ocean's Empty, that's a weird title, and 2048... George would be like 100, how will that work? I have to admit I was a little disappointed by the actual topic. :(
  • It's funny that these articles always need to justify the cause... They say things like "fish filter toxins from the water" and "we won't have any seafood to eat!" It's like they're letting us know that killing all the life in the world's oceans would actually be a bad thing. Oh, now I get it! I had always just assumed that all life on Earth was mainly just for decoration and for me to put in my mouth, until this article clued me in.
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      Ironically, it is because no one on this planet seems to care until it affects their own sorry daily life. Hell, even telling people that losing all the fish would mean the end of the human race, they don't care. What you have to tell them is that losing all the fish would mean, let say, that the fish industry would die, and that the government will raise the income taxe. THEN they start caring.

      Humans are pathetic.
  • welcome our new Soylent Green economy.
  • is to put frickin' laser beams on the heads of these species so that they'll be able to protect themselves.
  • by nido ( 102070 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .65odin.> on Saturday November 04, 2006 @03:12AM (#16713711) Homepage
    The U.S. Feral Government has been busy telling us that fish is healthy, and that we should eat at least a serving a week. This ignores problems like mercury and PCB contamination, not to mention severe overfishing of the world's oceans. Also, farmed salmon just doesn't taste right, and is an ecological disaster in progress to boot. Search for 'salmon sea lice' for information on how salmon farms in Canada infect their wild cousins with lice, devastating the wild salmon runs in certain areas.

    I've stopped eating fish - partially because it's expensive to get good wild salmon, but mainly because I think I can do better for less of a financial outlay. I figure that fish are best eaten for their Omega-3 essential fatty acid, and I can get that fat elsewhere. I buy grass-fed beef from a family farmer, and omega-3 enriched eggs when I can't find any eggs from local farmers. The omega-3 enrichment in eggs typically comes from flax in the chicken feed.

    I'm currently growing purslane [] in my Earthbox [], and am working on some Perilla [] seedlings too. Both are high in omega 3 [] (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid [ALA]), and I plan on eating them as salad greens. (Summer heat kills plants in the desert, so fall/winter/spring are the best growing months.)

    And if I ever start raising chickens [], I can grow Perilla and Purslane as feed for home-grown DHA and EPA-enriched eggs (letting the chickens do the ALA->DHA/EPA conversion).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by umbrellasd ( 876984 )
      The U.S. Feral Government has been busy telling us
      Gotcha! Poster plays a Druid in WoW! "Think of the Firefin Snappers!" he says. "Is there no love for the Oily Blackmouth?" he says. You're not fooling anyone. We know what you're really talking about!
  • I always wonder who pays to "undo" the damage caused by tankers breaking apart because maintenance is one of those things that apparently can be ignored to cut costs. Every time we hear about oil spills in the news we're presented with those nasty pictures of dying seabirds etc. yet we never hear who is responsible for it, neither do we hear about anyone who takes or even whether someone is made responsible for this. And all the while the people running the oil companies make billions, increase their profit
  • I saw a decrease... (Score:5, Informative)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @06:47AM (#16714533) Homepage Journal
    .......commercial fishing in two periods of time, separated by roughly a decade. The level of decrease in fish stocks I personally saw was astounding. And this was quite some time ago, I can't imagine it has gotten any better.

    It really helps to get a handle on this if you stop thinking of it as fishing, and no, I am not kidding. Just a little mental trick works well. Switch the term from fishing to "oceanic market hunting", then go back and look in history what market hunting did to wild terrestrial animal species, passenger pigeon, bison, migratory wildfowl, the dodo, etc. It did not take long historically speaking to see humongous stock depletion. Ocean fishing is market hunting, it will have the same effect eventually, there's no way around it. The time frame may be arguable, but the effect won't if let to go on like it is now, because there will be demand, even if it is only from the top 2% of thee wealthiest. I mean, they used to serve *plovers tongues* in restaurants. That's the sort of goofy market pressure that can happen, all the way to extinction or near extinction.

        The only way we managed to even remotely save a lot of terrestrial species was with a total ban on wild game hunting for commercial purposes(I will only speak of the US now I really don't have much knowledge of this from other countries). We have personal sport hunting now and that has worked with a lot of good game management in place, and that only came about from enough people noticing "hey, where did all the animals go to???" It was an almost too late collective "duh" moment, and one would hope we have a bit more data and scientific sophistication to work with now than we did in the late 1800s. And even with game management laws in place, some times desperate times can negate those factors. If you go back and look at the great depression era, some species that are in good shape suffered near total collapse, eastern white tailed deer got hunted to severely low levels back then, even though the laws were there, desperately poor people just had to eat, so they did, and the laws were just flaunted.

    I agree with another poster above, in the oceans, trawling is responsible because it is so deadly efficient in killing a lot of animals. In the US they used to allow "punt guns" for waterfowl hunting, basically short barreled boat-mounted small cannon, very efficient in harvestng ducks, so efficient that during market hunting times they about wiped out some species in short order, they had to be banned outright, and now shotguns are limited to 10 gauge maximum size. I think we as humans are going to need to address this sort of thing with wild ocean hunting of fish if we don't want to suffer the same fate we did with the land animals. Heck, there has to be some more older New England and Candian slashdotters here who can remember when cod was dirt cheap in the store, I mean rdiculous cheap, I sure can, because they were so abundant, and there were still a lot of other species that were abundant so cod was considered a second tier-class fish, now it ain't so, and cod is now in a decline state and expensive.

Forty two.