Fish, sharks, whales and other marine species are in imminent danger of an “unprecedented” and catastrophic extinction event at the hands of humankind, and are disappearing at a far faster rate than anyone had predicted, a study of the world’s oceans has found.
Mass extinction of species will be “inevitable” if current trends continue, researchers said.
Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (Ipso), prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford University.
The international panel of marine experts said there was a “high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”. They said the challenges facing the oceans created “the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth’s history”.
“The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, scientific director of Ipso. “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.
Over the past 100 years, some two-thirds of the large predator fish in the ocean have been caught and consumed by humans, and in the decades ahead the rest are likely to perish, too.
In their place, small fish such as sardines and anchovies are flourishing in the absence of the tuna, grouper and cod that traditionally feed on them, creating an ecological imbalance that experts say will forever change the oceans.
“Think of it like the Serengeti, with lions and the antelopes they feed on,” said Villy Christensen of University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre. “When all the lions are gone, there will be antelopes everywhere. Our oceans are losing their lions and pretty soon will have nothing but antelopes.”
This grim reckoning was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting Friday during a panel that asked the question: “2050: Will there be fish in the ocean?”
The panel predicted that while there would be fish decades from now, they will be primarily the smaller varieties currently used as fish oil, fish meal for farmed fish and only infrequently as fish for humans. People, the experts said, will have to develop a taste for anchovies, capelins and other smaller species.
by Erin Miller
It happened again — a West Hawaii resident observed Kona Blue Water Farms employees pouring something into their fish pens and wondered what it was doing to water quality and the environment.
State officials at two departments said they haven’t received any recent complaints about water or environmental quality around the Kona Blue Water Farms fish pens.
Kona Blue’s Neil Sims, attending a conference in Canada, provided a brief response via a voicemail Wednesday afternoon. He said the activity observed was a standard therapeutic treatment. Sims was unavailable for additional comment Wednesday evening.
Kona Blue takes water samples and reports the results back to the state Department of Health, said Matthew Kurano of the Clean Water Branch.
“To our knowledge, they’ve passed (those tests),” Kurano said, adding he’s seen no reasons for any compliance violations in recent months.
Kona Blue leases about 90 acres offshore of Unualoha Point on the Kohala Coast where it is raising fish in floating pens.
DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands Administrator Sam Lemmo said his office has asked Kona Blue to fix some of its benthic monitoring reports, which look at the conditions of the ocean floor below the fish pens. That’s the only recent area of concern, Lemmo said.
“I haven’t found any negative effects yet to our resources we’re protecting,” Lemmo said.
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) – Kauai environmentalists and business interests are clashing over whether to renew a federal permit that would allow a shrimp farm to continue discharging effluent into the ocean.
Sunrise Capital, a unit of the Missouri-based Integrated Aquaculture International, wants to renew its Environmental Protection Agency permit for a shrimp farm in Kekaha.
Sunrise currently produces white shrimp at its facility, mainly for local consumption and breeding stock for export. The firm has plans to produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed and algae to produce jet fuel.
George Chamberlain, a founder of Integrated Aquaculture International, told about 50 people gathered at a public hearing Wednesday that the effluent discharge ”has no impact,” according to the Kauai Garden Island.
Other supporters, who comprised about half of the audience, were focused on economic concerns.
”We need those jobs again,” said Tony Ricci, a resident. He contended critics are blowing out of proportion potential problems with discharges.
But other residents and representatives of environmental groups criticized the permit renewal.
Rayne Regush of the Kauai branch of the Sierra Club said her organization opposes the company’s application. If it were renewed, she said the frequency of monitoring should be increased, water-quality testing should also look for bacteria, and monitoring data should be made available online to the public.
WAIMEA — Blessed with some of the purest seawater in the world and sunny growing conditions, the owners of the Kekaha shrimp farm have big plans for their small operation.
Currently producing white shrimp mainly for local consumption and broodstock for export around the world, Sunrise Capital, owned by the Mainland-based Integrated Aquaculture International, has plans to eventually produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed, even algae to produce jet fuel.
That makes them, as Dr. Carl Berg of Lihu‘e says, a concentrated aquatic animal production facility, something Dr. George Chamberlain agrees with.
Chamberlain is a director of Integrated Aquaculture International and president of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (gaalliance.org), and conducted a two-hour informational meeting about the Kekaha aquaculture farm at the Waimea Theatre, just before a state Department of Health public hearing on the farm’s application for a permit necessary to discharge farm effluent into the ocean.
The DOH will either approve or deny the continuation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and monitored by DOH.