Today is World Ocean’s Day, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future first coordinated by The Ocean Project in 2002. According to its website, www.worldoceansday.org, this year’s theme is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” and individuals and organizations across the planet are focusing on the prevention of plastic pollution in our oceans.
A January report from the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur foundation showed that by 2050, there could be more plastic (by weight) than fish in the planet’s oceans. As much as 165 million tons of plastic could be floating around the oceans currently.
But today is also an opportunity to talk about how runoff from animal agriculture negatively affects oceans and marine life, and how fishing is devastating the planet. Consider the following points:
Three quarters of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted. The phrase “overfishing” is used quite often in relation to these statistics. But we need to officially retire that phrase. At this point—ALL fishing is overfishing. Among the most serious threats to marine species worldwide is the voracious human appetite for marine animals, otherwise known as “seafood.”
We are on track to seeing fishless oceans by 2048—stocks of all marine species fished for food are set to collapse by then. This is why it’s very important to understand that there is NO SUCH THING as “sustainable seafood” when the situation is this dire. But “sustainable seafood” is a feel-good meaningless label, which seeks to deny the reality that all fishing must stop.
Ninety to 100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year.
As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year.
For every one pound of fish caught, up to five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.
As many as 40 percent (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded. Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
Forty to 50 million sharks killed in fishing lines and nets.
But there is hope. Friends of Animals continues to take actions to protect our oceans and marine life.
For example five species of sturgeon gained Endangered Species Act protection in 2014 thanks to the efforts of Friends of Animals and Wildlife Earth Guardians, who filed a petition back in 2012 to add 15 sturgeon communities to the U.S. Endangered Species List. They five species are the Sakhalin sturgeon, olive-hued Adriatic sturgeon, massive Chinese sturgeon, European or Baltic sturgeon and the Kaluga or Great Siberian sturgeon.
Despite being described as the most threatened group of animals on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, sturgeon are still being exploited by the lucrative caviar trade.
Also, scalloped hammerhead sharks became the first species of shark to be protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The final rule to list four of the existing six distinct population segments of scalloped hammerhead sharks as threatened (Indo-West Pacific DPS and Central/SW Atlantic DPS) or endangered (Eastern Atlantic DPS and Eastern Pacific DPS) was published on July 3 of 2014 by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The move comes in response to a 2011 petition from WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals.
If you want to take action to protect our oceans today and every day, please consider supporting our Wildlife Law Program by becoming a member of Friends of Animals if you aren’t already.