Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at York University, predicts that by 2050 half the world population will have to go without fish; all that will be left for them may be “jellyfish and slime”.
Ninety years of industrial-scale exploitation of fish has led to an ecological meltdown, and whole biological food chains have been destroyed.
North Atlantic fish stocks have been in decline for well over a century. Fish catch records from the 1920’s onwards show that, despite the enormous improvements in technology, catches of the great Atlantic species have remained constant or slowly declined.
Why has the international community failed so badly in its attempts to stop this long-heralded disaster?
“Quite simply,” Roberts says, “agreements and deals brokered by politicians will never be satisfactory. They always look for the short-term fix.” Quotas for fishing fleets are on average 15 to 30 percent higher than those recommended as safe by scientists. And often, for less threatened species, the quotas are set 100 percent higher than the science recommended.