Fish killed graph

“If the long-term trend continues, there will be little or no seafood available for a sustainable harvest by 2048.” — Boris Worm quoted in 2014 Alternet article by Cliff Weathers

A study authored by Boris Worm, Ph.D., of Dalhoussie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and colleagues in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, and Panama stated, “the cause: the disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.”

Oil extraction like the BP long-term oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a big contributor to death in our oceans, directly and through climate destruction.

All of that is due to one species, us.

"This isn't predicted to happen. This is happening now," researcher Nicola Beaumont, Ph.D., of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, in the United Kingdom, said in a news release.

"If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to sustain our lives at all," Beaumont added.

By 2006, 29% of edible fish in the oceans had declined by 90%, collapsing those fisheries.

“Their bottom line: Everything that lives in the ocean is important. The diversity of ocean life is the key to its survival. The areas of the ocean with the most different kinds of life are the healthiest … But the loss of species isn't gradual. It's happening fast — and getting faster.”

And it is not just about eating fish: “Ocean species filter toxins from the water. They protect shorelines. And they reduce the risks of algae blooms such as the red tide.”

“Worm and colleagues call for sustainable fisheries management, pollution control, habitat maintenance, and the creation of more ocean reserves.”

The real solution for human and planetary health is rapid transformation to a humane plant-based diet.

Researching more recent information, I found an April 24, 2019 article in "Cool Green Science" by Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University and author of the newly released "Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease." The article is titled, "There’s a Plague in Our Oceans. Can Ecosystem Services Help?" It contends that “big disease outbreaks are making our ocean biota sick, from corals with spots and halos to starfish melting away to salmon anemic with viruses.”

He explains, “I worry most about the threat posed by microbes, because in oceans beset by all these stresses (climate warming, acidification, plastics), microscopic disease-causing organisms can gain the upper hand, cause death on a massive scale, and thereby bring about rapid, wide-scale ecological change.”

Both marine and land animals are being extinguished by fast-morphing pathogens: “Those of us who study non-human diseases are worried that mass mortality caused by multi-host pathogens is becoming a common and recurrent event, threatening biodiversity in both terrestrial and marine environments. The frogs of the world’s rainforests are a high-profile example.”

A lethal, fast spreading skin fungus is estimated to have extinguished at least 200 species of frogs forever from this planet. Oysters, clams, abalone, herring and salmon are all being devastated by infectious diseases.

Studies referenced above focus on human exploitation and needs.

We humans turn a blind eye to the feeling, conscious world of other species. We can barely tolerate slight differences in our own species.

Just as Farm Sanctuary first took on the plight of fellow mammals exploited to the slaughterhouse, FishFeel is a nonprofit educating for humane treatment of fish and other ocean life. This 14-minute video, "Seaspiracy," lays out the ocean tragedy perpetrated by human merciless assault.

FishFeel’s home page shreds the convenient rationale of humans: “Sadly, fish are the most misrepresented and misperceived animals. For example, the absurd but common notion that fish have 'a three-second memory' should be blown out of the water by the fact that migrating fishes, such as salmon, remember their way home years later and from thousands of miles away. Others, including goldfish, can learn and remember skills. One is even noted for it in the Guinness Book of World Records! Also contrary to popular myth, fish can suffer fear and pain, as has been scientifically shown. Far more fish are exploited than any other category of animals, and they are subjected to the worst abuses. Yet, fish have the least legal protection and receive the least concern for their well-being, even from the animal protection community. Globally, an estimated one to three trillion wild-caught fishes and 37-120 billion farmed fishes are killed commercially for food each year. Hundreds of millions more are killed for “sport” each year in the U.S. alone. Fishes are also increasingly replacing other animals for scientific experimentation. Approximately one-quarter of all the animals used for research and education in North America are fish. Additionally, some 1.5 billion are used for aquariums."

A 79-year-old Japanese diver has enjoyed a 25 year friendship with his friend, Yoriko, a humphead wrasse. When she was sick, he fed her and saved her life. Share his joy in that friendship here.

We have so much to learn about the miraculous beings on this planet. We face a moral challenge of planetary survival proportions. We can change to a plant-based diet now, and give the oceans back to their indigenous life.

“’Biodiversity is a finite resource, and we are going to end up with nothing left … if nothing changes,' says Worm." 

Action Alert:

The bear hunt in Wisconsin, targeting a quota of 3,800 bears to be killed for recreation of the few, is scheduled for Sept. 4-Oct. 8. Our bears, supposedly our commons, also are the responsibility of 99.9% of citizens who kill no bears. This slaughters mostly bear cubs eight months old to a year-and-a-half. Citizen apathy is responsible for this cruelty.

Find your legislators here and tell them to end this mass murder of our bears for good. If we cannot save bears, likely we cannot save ourselves from this mass extinction.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. or

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