ScienCentral News
environment general science genetics health and medicine space technology June 27, 2003 
home NOVA News Minutes archive login

is a production of
ScienCentral, Inc.
Making Sense of Science

Also of Interest
Good Fish, Bad Fish (video)

The Core (video)

Battlefield Band-Aids (video)

West Nile Airplanes (video)

Climate Change and Snow (video)

Tsunami Warning (video)

Strong Stuff (video)

Fishing for Trouble (video)

Deep Sea Daycare (video)

Sinking City (video)

Shifting Seas (video)

Harry Potter’s Owl (video)

Fallout Fears (video)

Cloned Cuisine (video)

Andrew + 10 (video)

NOVA News Minutes
Visit the NOVA News Minutes archive.
ScienCentral News and Nature
Nature genome promo logo
Don’t miss Enter the Genome
our collaboration with Nature.
Best of the Web!
Popular Science Best of the Web 2000
Selected one of Popular Science’s 50 Best of the Web.
Get Email Updates
Write to us and we will send you an email when a new feature appears on the site.
Ocean Fishing Ban (video)
March 27, 2003

Can't see the movie above??
download realplayer logo
You can choose to either view it with a RealPlayer by clicking here. Or get the free QuickTime player to view the higher-quality video above.

Interviewees: Daniel Pauly, University of Victoria - British Columbia, Canada; Bob Thorstenson, President, United Fishermen of Alaska.

Video is 1 min 12 sec long. Please be patient while it loads enough to start playing.

Produced by Jack Penland

Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc., with additional footage or images from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, ABC News, and the Nature Publishing Group.

Also on ScienCentral News

Fishing for Trouble - Both marine biologists and chefs are working together to give some fish a break. (2/13/03)

Gone Fishing - Using a device that was once part of the problem, biologists are angling for ways to restore fish populations to their old abundance. (6/14/01)

Elsewhere on the web

Overfishing: A Global Challenge

Living Oceans Society

Marine Protected Areas of the United States

Should large areas of the ocean be off-limits to fishing?

As this ScienCentral News video reports, that’s the hope of one leading scientist writing in the journal Nature.

Fishing Ban

It’s hard to imagine the vast oceans of the world being limited in their ability to provide us with fish. But some fishing areas, or “fisheries”, have already collapsed and marine biologists say we may be making ocean fish populations disappear from other areas as well. Because of this, some say fishing should be banned from large parts of the ocean.

Daniel Pauly, professor at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, is telling the world in journals like Nature that fish stocks in the oceans are plummeting, and that the only way to replenish them is to ban fishing in certain areas. This would allow the fish to grow, breed, and replenish. “We will actually catch more if we fish less,” Pauly explains. “One reason we are catching less is that we have overfished.”

Many theories have been advanced regarding a drop in the number of fish. They range from pollution to global climate change to other sea life. But Pauly—who helped create FishBase, a website that has information on 27,000 fish species—places the blame squarely on the increased mechanization and technological advances available in fishing. He says if you compare fishing to hunting, you can see the problem. “If you’re hunting rabbits,” says Pauly, “and there are fewer rabbits because there are too many hunters, nobody would say, ‘Let’s have bigger guns.’ Yet this is exactly what happens with fisheries. We have bigger boats, because a ‘boat’ is actually a ‘gun’.”

Pauly told Nature that the effect of fisheries on marine life is equivalent to that of a large meteor strike on terrestrial life. He advocates setting up Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) with “no-take” reserves to limit the amount of fishing in oceans. Right now, only 0.1 percent of the world’s oceans are protected, but Pauly believes that about 30 to 50 percent of the world’s oceans should be put aside in MPAs. “[The fish] would come back, they would be thankful,” he says. “They do respond. If you close an area, the fish come back.”

Not Everyone Agrees

Bob Thorstenson, president of the United Fishermen of Alaska, is a fourth generation Alaskan salmon fisher who does not agree that all fisheries are in trouble. “On an annual basis we harvest approximately 10 times more wild salmon than we harvested 30 years ago. The populations of wild salmon in most regions of Alaska are at extreme highs, historical highs never before seen.”

He says a ban on fishing would have a direct effect on one group of people—those who fish for a living. “We are a fishing nation in Alaska,” says Thorstenson. “Commercial fishing is the largest employer in the state of Alaska, the second largest revenue generator behind oil. We will not have doctors, scientists, or environmental groups implement some type of statewide program in Alaska from outside just based on their desires to see Alaska protected from Alaskans. We’re going to use the best available science, the best research, and the best technology to determine those times and those areas where it makes sense to harvest, and those times and places where it doesn’t.”

Pauly's Sea Around Us Project, funded by the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, is investigating the impact of large-scale fisheries on marine ecosystems.

by Karen Lurie

About Search Login Help Webmaster
ScienCentral News is a production of ScienCentral, Inc.
in collaboration with the Center for Science and the Media.
248 West 35th St., 17th Fl., NY, NY 10001 USA (212) 244-9577.
The contents of these WWW sites © ScienCentral, 2000-2003. All rights reserved.
The views expressed in this website are not necessarily those of the NSF.
NOVA News Minutes and NOVA are registered trademarks of WGBH Educational Foundation and are being used under license.