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Fishing & Aquaculture

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The oceans' marine life forms are declining from human overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and global warming.

Global Aquaculture and Fisheries Map
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"99% of the worldwide annual commercial ocean catch comes from coastal waters, within 200 nautical miles of the coastline. these narrow coastal fringes are both the most productive and the most vulnerable." 3

"Roughly one-third of the world's coral reef systems have been destroyed or highly degraded." 1

Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs)

Each coastal country has an EEZ extending 200 miles offshore. Legal mechanisms and investment incentives are being implemented to privatize and develop these marine areas for open ocean aquaculture and other industrial uses. This commercial exploitation will be beyond sub-national (state or provincial) regulation. Used offshore oil platforms are likely to be recycled as anchor points for large scale open net aquaculture.

Aquaculture - Industrial farming in fresh or salt water of fish, mollusks, crustaceans and plants

Aquaculture is rapidly increasing its annual global harvest and seems to offer hope for increased food production. However, for some of the more than 210 farmed aquatic animal and plant species,8 particularly salmon and shrimp, the methods currently used require high energy inputs and can cause environmental degradation similar to industrial/chemical agriculture or factory farming of livestock. These are:

  • Loss of natural habitat;

  • Loss of genetic diversity;

  • Replacement of self reliant indigenous fisheries with multinational corporations;

  • Pollution from concentrated sewage can smother the benthic (bottom dwelling) organisms, over fertilize the water and lead to toxic algae blooms (A single fin fish farm may output as much daily sewage as a small city);

  • High stress overcrowding contributes to epidemic disease remedied by routine vaccinations and antibiotic treatments (cultivating drug resistant pathogens and impacting other aquatic wildlife);

  • high concentrations of pathogens/parasites on the farm can infect the natural environment threatening local species; 4,5 escaped domesticated farm fish can threaten local species with extinction through genetic pollution.

    The high protein feed for farmed salmon is largely composed of ocean caught fish meal and meat offal from poultry and hog processing. Because of bio-accumulation of toxins in their feed, "Consumption of farmed salmon even at relatively low frequencies results in elevated exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds with commensurate elevation in estimates of health risk." 6 Farming of shrimp in asia has lead to significant destruction of natural mangrove ecosystems.
    Genetically engineered fish are being readied for commercial production in open net pens.


    "75% of the major marine fish
    stocks are either depleted,
    overexploited or being fished
    at their biological limit."

    Fish catch per capita is no longer increasing
    For a while, market demand for fish and dramatic developments in fishing technology - larger fleets, open ocean factory ships, transparent lines and nets, huge drift nets, bottom trawlers and electronic fish finders led to increases in annual catch. However, total annual catch has leveled off. The global fishing fleet capacity is nearly double the sustainable supply. Many populations of formerly abundant high trophic level species (such as cod) have collapsed. Fishermen are now fishing "down the food web" - catching smaller species that used to be considered "bait" or were food for the larger fish that are no longer abundant enough to catch. 7

    "In the commercial fishing areas
    between North America and the
    British Isles, there has been a 90%
    decline in predatory fish populations,
    notably cod." 3

    Fish are a major source of
    food protein for billions
    of people and their
    domesticated animals.

    UN FAO: State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2002,


    Oceans map sources:
    "Political Map of the World, April 2004"; Perry Castaneda Map Library,;
    EEZ's and fishing area boundaries:
    United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation,;
    Aquaculture production and environments:
    UN FAO FISHSTAT Database,; FAO State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2000,;
    Phytoplankton Production"; Gaia, An Atlas of Planet Management,

    Oceans text sources:
    1. World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, "A Framework for Action on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management",
    2. World Fisheries: Declines, Potential and Human Reliance,
    3. UN World Water Development Report,
    4.Transmission Dynamics of Parasitic Sea Lice from Farm to Wild Salmon,
    5.Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus in Scottish Atlantic Salmon Farms, 1996-2001,
    6. "Risk Based Consumption Advice for Farmed Atlantic and Wild Pacific Salmon Contaminated with Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds"
    7. Pew Institute for Ocean Science, "Top Fish Populations Being Replaced by Rays, Smaller Fish", Apr. 4, 2005
    8. UN FAO FISHERIES: State of World Fisheries and Aaquaculture 2002,