Saturday, May 21, 2011

What's an Ocean Without Fish?

It's a giant toilet, that's what. Our government is paying people to turn the ocean into a giant toilet.

Look, here's an ocean with fish:

Here's an ocean without fish:

SO fugly.

The good news is that if there are any aliens out there who are in the business of shopping for a new planet, they might be less likely to target Earth.

Governments spend $10-30 billion a year on subsidies to the fishing industry. A small amount of that is spent on fisheries research and improved management (North America isn't doing too bad, with 55% of subsidies going towards R&D and Marine Protected Areas). However, the majority of subsidies goes towards increased capacity on the water - more boats, better technology to target fish, port construction, fuel tax exemptions, etc.

What does this mean for the fishies?

Even though fish stocks are being depleted, fishers have the means to go further and deeper into the ocean to catch the last remaining fish. And it's not like the government is doling out subsidies because the fishing sector is really profitable. From 1995-2005, the amount that India and Brazil spent on fishing subsidies EXCEEDED the value of fish that were landed! And high seas bottom trawl fleets - the ones with the giant nets that scrape the bottom of the sea practically destroying everything in their paths - would be operating at a $51 million annual LOSS if not for subsidies.

A few organizations such as Pew, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF have been trying to draw attention to this issue by increasing transparency of information, and speaking to appropriate people at WTO, FAO, etc., but who knows how many fish species will be commercially available within the next 5-10 years?


Also, speaking of oceans, I watched Pirates of the Caribbean 4 last night at the Castro theater and it was EPIC!


  1. Very interesting. Why were all these subsidies put in in the first place??

    Also, is the Little Mermaid your favorite movie? I feel like you reference it a lot

  2. OMG. It totally IS my favorite movie of all time! I basically reference from the same things over and over: Little Mermaid, Sound of Music, Star Wars and This American Life. Really all I need.

    Subsidies were put in b/c fishing was viewed as an employment mechanism - still is for parts of Canada. But once they're in place, they're so hard to get rid of! (like corn subsidies. BLAH)