Could the Ocean Soon Run Out of Fish? New Documentary 'The End of the Line' Says So
It's a scenario almost too farfetched to fathom, yet it's a very real possibility. Scientists say that the oceans, the cradle of life on this planet, could run out of fish within the next few decades.
A new documentary film called The End of the Line (trailer at the bottom of this post), based on a book by the same name, is set to be released next week and it outlines the situation facing our planet's seas. The film opens in a Newfoundland fishing village, situated on shores that were once almost overflowing with cod. Then, around 25 years ago, most of the fish disappeared. The area had been overfished and the population of cod had shrunk to only a tiny fraction of what it had been only a few years before. The Canadian government stepped in and banned fishing in the area, expecting that the cod population would replenish itself. It still hasn't.
The fish in the rest of the world's oceans could soon face a similar fate. A recent study published in the journal Science suggests that fish (at least the fish that we eat and the species who get caught in the nets intended to catch the edible ones) could be gone from the ocean before the year 2050.
This is a health issue, both for humans and for our planet. We need to eat fish. They contain Omega-3 fatty acids that our brains need. The earth needs fish in the oceans. Loss of biodiversity can be devastating for eco-systems. Loss of fish has been linked to worsening water quality and increased levels of harmful algal blooms.
This is also an issue of morality. We are on pace to be the generation that wiped fish from the planet. Our greed could deny future generations the chance to see (and, yes, eat) fish.
The good news is that it's an easy problem to solve. All we have to do is stop overfishing. We simply have to reduce our consumption of fish and allow the species to repopulate the oceans. Scientists advise that we should expand the area of the ocean in which fishing is banned to 30 percent (it's currently a minuscule 0.6 percent). In the remaining 70 percent, we need strict controls on how many fish can be removed from the water.
It may take longer than we initially thought for fish populations to replenish themselves (such as in Newfoundland), but it can still happen. However, if we continue to remove all the fish from the ocean, we'll reach a point of no return. We are dangerously close to that point. Let's not get any closer.