Organic Value Recovery Solutions LLC © Organic Value Recovery Solutions 2010 © Organic Value Recovery Solutions 2010 Expansion saps world's fishing grounds: UBC CBC News - Dec. 3/2010 A study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia indicates maintaining the current supply of wild fish is not sustainable. A study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia indicates maintaining the current supply of wild fish is not sustainable. The world has run out of new fishing grounds due to the rapid expansion of global fisheries in recent years, according to a study led by the University of British Columbia. The findings, conducted in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and published Thursday in the online journal PloS ONE, is the first to examine how industrialized fisheries have expanded over the past 50 years. The study indicates fisheries expanded at a rate of one million square kilometres per year from the 1950s to the early 1970s, with the rate tripling in the 1980s and 1990s. Expansion into unexploited fishing grounds has allowed global catches to increase despite the fact that fish stocks are being depleted, according to the study's researchers. Between 1950 and 2005, the study indicates, fisheries have been expanding southward into the Southern Hemisphere at a rate of almost one degree latitude each year. During the same time period, the world's fish catch increased five-fold from 19 million tonnes in 1950 to a peak of 90 million tonnes in the late 1980s. That number dropped to 87 million tonnes in 2005, according to the study. "The decline of spatial expansion since the mid-1990s is not a reflection of successful conservation efforts but rather an indication that we've simply run out of room to expand fisheries," said Wilf Swartz, a PhD student at UBC Fisheries Centre and lead author of the study. "If people in Japan, Europe and North America find themselves wondering how the markets are still filled with seafood, it's in part because spatial expansion and trade makes up for over-fishing and fishing down the food chain in local waters." Existing fish stocks need protection The study indicates that less than 0.1 per cent of the world's oceans are designated as marine reserves that are closed to fishing. "While many people still view fisheries as a romantic, localized activity pursued by rugged individuals, the reality is that for decades now, numerous fisheries are corporate operations that take a mostly no-fish-left- behind approach to our oceans until there's nowhere left to go," said Daniel Pauly, co-author and principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project at UBC Fisheries Centre. The researchers used a new computer model to measure the ecological footprint of fisheries, allowing them to determine the combined impact of all marine fisheries and their rate of expansion. The program quantified the amount of "primary production" — the microscopic organisms and plants at the bottom of the marine food chain — required to produce any given amount of fish. "This method allows us to truly gauge the impact of catching all types of fish, from large predators such as bluefin tuna, to small fish such as sardines and anchovies," Pauly said. "Because not all fish are created equal and neither is their impact on the sustainability of our ocean." The study is proof that further steps must be taken to protect existing fishing stocks, the researchers argue. "The era of great expansion has come to an end, and maintaining the current supply of wild fish sustainably is not possible," said Enric Sala, co-author and National Geographic Ocean fellow. "The sooner we come to grips with it — similar to how society has recognized the effects of climate change — the sooner we can stop the downward spiral by creating stricter fisheries regulations and more marine reserves."