It is rather disturbing to read that thirteen years after the world rallied to curb overfishing, most nations are failing to abide by the United Nation's "code of conduct" for managing fisheries. Australia, Norway, the United States, Canada, Iceland and Namibia were the only nations that scored above a 60 per cent compliance rate, the equivalent of a barely passing "D" grade, according to a marine scientist's research.
The global fisheries standards were developed in 1995 by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome. Though voluntary, the 12-part code is based on rules of international law and some of it has been made into legally binding agreements. It was crafted to include all aspects of the fishing business, including processing and trade in fish products, aquaculture, marine research and coastal management, reducing pollution and harmful fishing practices. The code also has been translated into 100 languages to try to encourage people to follow it.
Sadly, a survey published in the journal 'Nature' raises troubling questions about how the world's marine fisheries can continue to supply the main source of protein for many on the Planet with the oceans being severely overfished.
A spokesman for the United Nation Environment Program said that overfishing shows nations' failure to address "fundamental links" between ecology and the daily needs of tens of millions of people. The spokesman went on to say that "It's absolutely clear that one of the great market failures of modern times is the management of the world's fisheries, and there are examples from almost every fishery across the globe where the fishing effort exceeds the available catch".
Indeed, it was two years ago, that a team of ecologists and economists warned in the journal 'Science' that just about all seafood sources face collapse by 2048 if current trends of overfishing and pollution continue.
There is no doubt that these findings present a serious problem for people worldwide and, in particular, for our Pacific Island people for whom fish stocks are an essential and only source of protein. Certainly, declining fish stocks may well make it impossible for our traditional island way of life to survive for much longer.
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