Krill, a tiny shrimp-like creature commonly used in fish oil supplements due to its high ‘Omega 3’ oil content, has been the subject of considerable discussion in environmental circles. I’ve talked before about why there won’t be a sudden expansion of the krill fishery and today I’d like to address a different issue: is krill fishing harming penguin populations? The suggestion that krill fishing is damaging krill and penguin populations in the Antarctic should be taken very seriously and is a topic I feel it is important to address.
Prince Charles’ letters, released yesterday, refer to the need to protect Patagonian toothfish. But what is so important about this creature and how have things changed since Prince Charles wrote of its plight to the then environment minister in October 2004?
Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass, lives in the cold waters of the Atlantic and sub-Antarctic. This slow growing fish generally lives for up to 24 years and grows to over two meters in length. It’s a species of huge ecological importance, but also supports fishing communities throughout Southern America and the Antarctic islands who fish it commercially for markets in USA, EU and Japan.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (known as IUU fishing) is a major global problem which undermines the international community’s efforts to protect oceans for a sustainable future.
Estimated to be worth some $10-23.5 billion annually, IUU fishing damages the livelihoods of legitimate fishing operations and communities. In some parts of the world, total catches are estimated to be up to 40% higher than reported catches. Such levels of exploitation severely hamper the sustainable management of the marine ecosystem. IUU fishing covers a wide range of activities: non-compliance with regulations, non-reporting of catch, unregulated activity in high seas waters, and “fish piracy” – fishing without licences.
As one of MSC’s lead scientists, I often support scientific research into the sustainability and protection of marine ecosystems.
This week, I’m particularly proud to see one of these projects published in the journal Science.
Ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpin them are vital for sustaining human life. Recognising this, in 2010, 193 nations agreed on a set of 20 biodiversity-related goals, known as Aichi Biodiversity Targets. At the halfway point to the 2020 deadline, a team of 51 experts, including myself, from over 30 institutions got together to assess progress towards these targets, and projected whether or not they will be met.
Our oceans are vital: they supply protein, livelihoods and even every second breath of air we take. But our oceans are under increasing pressure.
In 1997 after the Newfoundland cod stocks collapsed, the Marine Stewardship Council was established with a mission to safeguard fish stocks for future generations.
Clearly, the challenges of overfishing have not gone away even though supplies of wild capture fish and seafood have plateaued at around 90m tonnes over the past five years . Some 29% of our seas are overfished  and if anything, the challenge will intensify as the global population rises to 9.6 billion by 2050, and with it the demand for protein to feed the world.