|

Global Fish Crisis | Still Waters, National Geographic Magazine

The diversion of low-value fish from the mouths of people in developing countries into the mouths of well-fed fish in the developed world… is obscenity on an imperial Roman scale. —Charles Clover

For one billion people, mostly poor, fish is the only source of protein.Pressures from the fishing industry place the estimate for empty oceans in the year 2048. According to England’s Royal Commission on Environment, the collapse of the world’s fisheries is the greatest environmental challenge facing the human race after global warming.

In 1995, a National Geographic article entitled “Diminishing Returns” warned that, “The next ten years are going to be very painful, full of upheaval for everyone connected to the sea.”  The cod fishery in Newfoundland was on “the verge of …

Global Fish Crisis | Still Waters, National Geographic Magazine

The diversion of low-value fish from the mouths of people in developing countries into the mouths of well-fed fish in the developed world… is obscenity on an imperial Roman scale. —Charles Clover

For one billion people, mostly poor, fish is the only source of protein.Pressures from the fishing industry place the estimate for empty oceans in the year 2048. According to England’s Royal Commission on Environment, the collapse of the world’s fisheries is the greatest environmental challenge facing the human race after global warming.

In 1995, a National Geographic article entitled “Diminishing Returns” warned that, “The next ten years are going to be very painful, full of upheaval for everyone connected to the sea.”  The cod fishery in Newfoundland was on “the verge of collapse.” And Senegalese politicians were selling off fishing rights to the EU at the expense of their artisanal fishermen.

The brewing storm in 1995 is no longer on the horizon.  Cod fishing has collapsed off Newfoundland, never to return. Fifty percent more fishermen in Senegal now have to travel 600km to find fish instead of the 200km it took in 1995. And, more importantly, there have been an additional ten years of trawlers strip-mining Africa’s waters. As a result, according to Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia, fisheries along the West African coast are in collapse.

The decline of available fish is so severe that Africans in coastal areas are forced to look for protein elsewhere. This means going deeper and deeper into the forests for bush meat, which has led to the extinction of almost half the species in some animal reserves in Ghana.

Fresh and frozen fish remain in ample supply in grocery stores, markets, and restaurants in First World countries, where nutrition experts routinely encourage everyone to eat more fish. We do this to make sure we get enough Omega-3 fatty acids, despite the decimation of these resources, and oblivious to the suffering and desperate circumstances of so many who rely on fish as their only protein.

Read The Full Story
A tide of protein comes ashore on Senegal’s coast where the Sahara meets the sea. These fishermen often catch so many of these Atlantic bumpers that some days they take only half their boats out to fish. Such grass roots conservation is heartening. But even at the local level, global demand for fish continues to rise: 60 per cent of the world’s population lives within 40 miles of the sea. Fish are a crucial food source in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa, where 200 million people depend largely on seafood for their animal protein. Worldwide, fish sustain one billion people, many of them poor. As pressure on stocks increases, the challenge for developing countries—whose share of fish production is projected to increase to 81 percent by 2015—is to balance the need for revenue with the need for food.
Fish such as Atlantic bumpers are a crucial food source in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa, where 200 million people depend largely on seafood for their animal protein. Worldwide, fish sustain one billion people, many of them poor. As pressure on stocks increases, the challenge for developing countries—whose share of fish production is projected to increase to 81 percent by 2015—is to balance the need for revenue with the need for food.
Drying fish seem to be swimming across the Sahara.  This is where the Sahara meets the sea in St. Louis, Senegal. Senegalese are the fishermen of Africa.  They look from their boats into the desert and just see worthless sand.  A few miles north, the Mauritanian Arabs all look to the desert for their livelihood.  The Senegalese do illegal fishing raids into Mauritania because it has the same nutrient rich upwelling that makes this piece of ocean so fertile.  Fish are laid out to dry in a fisherman’s village right at the edge of the ocean in St. Louis, Senegal.  The authorities have been trying to get rid of this community, but the fishing is the most important aspect of St. Louis and these folks have fought off the government to stay here.
A tide of protein comes ashore on Senegal’s coast where the Sahara meets the sea. These fishermen often catch so many of these Atlantic bumpers that some days they take only half their boats out to fish. Such grass roots conservation is heartening. But even at the local level, global demand for fish continues to rise: 60 per cent of the world’s population lives within 40 miles of the sea.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
In Senegal, fishers in hand-dug canoes have been plowed under by European trawlers. Indonesian gunboats now protect domestic fishermen by blasting foreign poachers out of the water. And bizarre cops-and-robbers chases have begun roiling even Antarctica’s remote seas: Last August, an Australian patrol boat pursued a sea bass pirate more than 4,000 miles across the bottom of the world. But the ultimate redoubt of the fishing wars–conflicts that northern consumers benefit from but hardly know exist–is the immensely long, untamed and vulnerable shoreline of sub-Saharan Africa. For decades, European, Russian, Japanese and Korean boats–both legal and piratical–have raked Africa’s rich continental shelves. Now China, a powerful new player in the world’s fish race, has steamed into the African battlefield.
In villages between Lake Victoria and the Serengeti Ecosystem, truckloads of rotting fish carcasses are driven to the local markets and sold. The filets were cut off in the processing plants in Musoma and shipped to Europe overnight, and the Africans get only the bones. This is a cotton production area and these people have just sold their crops.  They have money to buy good food, but they don’t have the option to buy their own fish from their own lakes. This is only one example of the “protein drain” in Africa.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
In Senegal, fishers in hand-dug canoes have been plowed under by European trawlers. Indonesian gunboats now protect domestic fishermen by blasting foreign poachers out of the water. And bizarre cops-and-robbers chases have begun roiling even Antarctica’s remote seas: Last August, an Australian patrol boat pursued a sea bass pirate more than 4,000 miles across the bottom of the world. But the ultimate redoubt of the fishing wars–conflicts that northern consumers benefit from but hardly know exist–is the immensely long, untamed and vulnerable shoreline of sub-Saharan Africa. For decades, European, Russian, Japanese and Korean boats–both legal and piratical–have raked Africa’s rich continental shelves. Now China, a powerful new player in the world’s fish race, has steamed into the African battlefield.
You can see the European Union freezer trucks in the background of this photograph. The Senegalese fisherman go out in their little leaky pirogues, fish in dangerous waters, and surrender all their fish to companies that make sure it is in Europe the next morning. The Senegalese then go to a home with meals that are primarily devoid of protein. In Senegal, some 600,000 people work in the fishing industry, and fish exports—mostly to Europe—are worth more than 325 million dollars a year. Faced with decreasing stocks, small-scale fishermen and Senegalese commercial vessels compete with foreign fleets. Additional pressure comes from pirate operations, which may take a billion dollars’ worth of fish a year from African waters.
Senegalese artisanal fishermen working in wooden pirogues must now go farther offshore—even into foreign waters—and stay out longer to fill their nets. The nation’s fleet of small boats, unregulated until recently, hauls in 80 percent of the catch and supplies about 60 percent of the export market. Senegal’s commercial vessels, foreign fleets from Europe and Asia, and pirate fishing boats add to the pressure; the country’s annual harvest declined from 426,000 metric tons in 1997 to 395,000 metric tons in 2004.
This is a fisherman’s village right at the edge of the ocean in St. Louis.  The authorities have been trying to get rid of this community, but the fishing is the most important aspect of St. Louis and these folks have fought off the government. This time of year they fish at night and are so successful that they have decided amongst themselves to only have half the boats go out each day.  The price of fish was incredibly low because there are so many and because these fishermen are so adept at exploiting the resource. Industrialized fishermen pay a license to fish, but then there is no limit for how much they can catch. The artesenal fishermen are not regulated in any way.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
But as global fish populations shrivel–and especially since the richest nations have sealed off their coastlines inside 200-mile “exclusive economic zones”–the crews of thousands of steel-hulled trawlers from the developed world have taken to raiding or buying their way into the waters of the poor. The result: a showdown over scarce protein in which some 20 million ragged traditional fishermen such as Rodriguez are the inevitable losers. “We are witnessing the last buffalo hunt at sea,” says Reg Watson, a researcher at the University of British Columbia who has helped document steep declines in the world’s key seafood stocks since the 1960s. “Our southern oceans are becoming the new Wild West.” And so it goes tonight on the remote
Women process fish on the shore at Karountine, northwest of Ziguinchor.  More and more Africans are living right on the coast because the ocean is one of the last sources for protein. This is a fisherman’s village right at the edge of the ocean in St. Louis, Senegal.  The authorities have been trying to get rid of this community, but fishing is the most important aspect of St. Louis and these folks have fought off the government to stay here.
Women process fish on the shore at Karountine, northwest of Ziguinchor.  More and more Africans are living right on the coast because the ocean is one of the last sources for protein. This is a fisherman’s village right at the edge of the ocean in St. Louis, Senegal.  The authorities have been trying to get rid of this community, but fishing is the most important aspect of St. Louis and these folks have fought off the government to stay here.
With competition intensifying to supply mostly European markets, fishing grounds off West Africa are going the way of Europe’s: toward depletion. These Senegalese, who had hoped to catch desirable export species such as shrimp or sole, will throw away the fish in their nets—wasting valuable protein for Africa.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
Such grotesque waste is termed “bycatch”: the modern fishing equivalent of mowing down buffalo herds for their hides and leaving the flayed carcasses on the prairie to rot. Anywhere in the maritime world, killing so many untargeted species to harvest a handful of valuable fish could be subject to prosecution. Yet so toothless are the laws of the sea in the far, tattered shores of the Earth–whether they be Angolan environmental regulations or the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries–that a captain’s main worry is that the “wrong fish” are clogging up his nets.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:  In Senegal, fishers in hand-dug canoes have been plowed under by European trawlers. Indonesian gunboats now protect domestic fishermen by blasting foreign poachers out of the water. And bizarre cops-and-robbers chases have begun roiling even Antarctica’s remote seas: Last August, an Australian patrol boat pursued a sea bass pirate more than 4,000 miles across the bottom of the world. But the ultimate redoubt of the fishing wars–conflicts that northern consumers benefit from but hardly know exist–is the immensely long, untamed and vulnerable shoreline of sub-Saharan Africa. For decades, European, Russian, Japanese and Korean boats–both legal and piratical–have raked Africa’s rich continental shelves. Now China, a powerful new player in the world’s fish race, has steamed into the African battlefield.
Foreign trawlers have hammered patches of coastline so hard that fish have become locally scarce–a blow to a nation where a million people rely on UN food aid. “It’s not worth going to sea,” says Jose Texeira da Cunha, an unemployed fisherman in Tombua, a forgotten port of crumbling stone houses and old fish meal factories corroding to rust. “You have to stay out for three days to get the same catches you once got in eight hours.” A dollar a day is the best living most fishermen can hope to wring out of the ocean, da Cunha says. Now some refugees from Angola’s fishing wars are even pushing into deserted coastline, seeking more fish. On virgin beaches, they clap together raw outposts of corrugated zinc and flotsam washed up by the Atlantic. Skinny-legged, bull-chested, shouting gruffly, the men heave their plank boats through the breakers at dawn. And their wives and rag-clad children ululate and dance on the sand, wishing them luck.
Every two hours a bell rings… Day and night… the 20 Senegalese sailors go out pull in the net, dump it into a dumpster contraption and then run downstairs to clean and sort the fish…  They are frozen and boxed and ready to ship when they hit port of Dakar. Sharks are Finned and babies sent over with by catch.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
But as global fish populations shrivel–and especially since the richest nations have sealed off their coastlines inside 200-mile “exclusive economic zones”–the crews of thousands of steel-hulled trawlers from the developed world have taken to raiding or buying their way into the waters of the poor. The result: a showdown over scarce protein in which some 20 million ragged traditional fishermen such as Rodriguez are the inevitable losers. “We are witnessing the last buffalo hunt at sea,” says Reg Watson, a researcher at the University of British Columbia who has helped document steep declines in the world’s key seafood stocks since the 1960s. “Our southern oceans are becoming the new Wild West.”
600,000 Senegalese participate in the fishing industry.  When you multiply that number times the 6 or 7 kids, you can see that this is a significant percentage of the 12 million Senegalese.  Artisanal fishermen catch eighty percent of the fish in this area. It’s the nation’s top foreign exchange earner, bringing in 350 million dollars a year.
The captain of this trawler is Francisco Lopez Rodriguez. Francisco worked in Newfoundland before the cod were all fished out.  His factory trawler flies a Senegalese flag and can hold 140 tons of fish/Octopus. They usually fill the boat in about 21 days at sea.  The trawler holds 250,000 liters of gasoil and goes thru about 3,000 liters a day.  The ship is about 38 meters long.  Francisco says whenever he gets near an IUU Korean boat doing a bottom trawl that the ocean is dead all around him…
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
Foreign trawlers have hammered patches of coastline so hard that fish have become locally scarce–a blow to a nation where a million people rely on UN food aid. “It’s not worth going to sea,” says Jose Texeira da Cunha, an unemployed fisherman in Tombua, a forgotten port of crumbling stone houses and old fish meal factories corroding to rust. “You have to stay out for three days to get the same catches you once got in eight hours.” A dollar a day is the best living most fishermen can hope to wring out of the ocean, da Cunha says. Now some refugees from Angola’s fishing wars are even pushing into deserted coastline, seeking more fish. On virgin beaches, they clap together raw outposts of corrugated zinc and flotsam washed up by the Atlantic. Skinny-legged, bull-chested, shouting gruffly, the men heave their plank boats through the breakers at dawn. And their wives and rag-clad children ululate and dance on the sand, wishing them luck.
In Senegal, fishers in hand-dug canoes have been plowed under by European trawlers. Indonesian gunboats now protect domestic fishermen by blasting foreign poachers out of the water. And bizarre cops-and-robbers chases have begun roiling even Antarctica’s remote seas: Last August, an Australian patrol boat pursued a sea bass pirate more than 4,000 miles across the bottom of the world. But the ultimate redoubt of the fishing wars–conflicts that northern consumers benefit from but hardly know exist–is the immensely long, untamed and vulnerable shoreline of sub-Saharan Africa. For decades, European, Russian, Japanese and Korean boats–both legal and piratical–have raked Africa’s rich continental shelves. Now China, a powerful new player in the world’s fish race, has steamed into the African battlefield.
The EU is hammering this coast with fishing trawlers and if they don’t catch the fish in their own trawlers, they dispatch trucks to suck up all the fish caught by the artisanal fishermen.  Fishermen in this boat work out of the port at MBour and say the fishing is very poor compared to previous years. Even so, fishing is the nation’s top foreign exchange earner, bringing in 350 million dollars a year.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
Foreign trawlers have hammered patches of coastline so hard that fish have become locally scarce–a blow to a nation where a million people rely on UN food aid. “It’s not worth going to sea,” says Jose Texeira da Cunha, an unemployed fisherman in Tombua, a forgotten port of crumbling stone houses and old fish meal factories corroding to rust. “You have to stay out for three days to get the same catches you once got in eight hours.” A dollar a day is the best living most fishermen can hope to wring out of the ocean, da Cunha says. Now some refugees from Angola’s fishing wars are even pushing into deserted coastline, seeking more fish. On virgin beaches, they clap together raw outposts of corrugated zinc and flotsam washed up by the Atlantic. Skinny-legged, bull-chested, shouting gruffly, the men heave their plank boats through the breakers at dawn. And their wives and rag-clad children ululate and dance on the sand, wishing them luck.
Sea Products moves octopus, squid, and cuttlefish to Europe, mostly Italy and Greece.  They have a coelacanth in their freezer being held for a museum. Coelacanths are the fossil fish that bridge the gap between fish and the mammals that left the sea to walk on land.  You can see their fins starting to become legs. There is speculation that coelacanths, long thought to be extinct, started showing up in Tanzania because their habitat was hammered by over fishing.
70 million years old, scientists previously considered the fish long extinct. In 1938, however, a fishing trawler brought up a live specimen. Since then more than 100 living coelacanths, remarkably unchanged since the Cretaceous period, have been caught off the coast of South Africa.
Biologists estimate that only 200 to 500 coelacanths remain in the western part of their range (the status of the eastern population is not yet known), and concern for the coelacanth’s continued survival is mounting. The coelacanth is classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (also known as the IUCN), an international organization that maintains a global list of vulnerable and endangered species called the Red List. A vulnerable classification means that the species faces a high risk of extinction in the near future.
Artisanal fishermen off the coast of Tanga, Tanzania drop their traps so they can sell to a Spanish company called “Sea Products.” Sea Products moves octopus, squid, and cuttlefish to Europe, mostly Italy and Greece. They have a coelacanth in their freezer being held for a museum.
The East coast of Africa doesn’t have the conditions to feed their countries with fish. The entire coastline of Tanzania and Mozambique offers up the same amount of fish as the dinky coastline of West Africa’s Senegal.
“If you buy fish in a store, do you know where it comes from?” asks a recent UN report on the alarming 100 percent rise in fishing piracy over the past decade. “It might be stolen from the poor. It could even have cost lives.”
Senevisa fish processing plant in Dakar processes cuttlefish brought in from artisanal fishermen. The local market consumes only three percent of the production of this plant. The prime fish and cuttlefish leave this plant in Styrofoam fresh packs at 5pm in Dakar and are at the Paris Orly airport at 6am.
Fish follows the money – If the Japanese pay the most for cuttlefish then it is shipped there overnight.  Senevisa is the largest trawler/fish exporter working out of Senegal.  It is an honest company trying to do a good business.  They pay fair prices for the fish from the artisanal fishermen and ship overnight to Paris or freeze and send in containers by boat.  They opened up their entire operation to me… the captains showed me their log books, told me how much it cost to operate a factory trawler (about 2000 euros a day), told me how much they could make in a day (about 3000 euros a day).  But the problem is that this nutrient rich upwelling off the Senegalese coast that brings in so many fish from the Atlantic ocean is being exploited by so many people for so much protein, that it cannot last. And it affects so much of the ecosystem because there is a disproportionate amount of fish available in this area.  It is like the last of the great plains of Buffalo.  If the Japanese came to our wild west and slaughter tons and tons of buffalo and then shipped it overseas-even employed our people to help them in the slaughter, it would be a similar situation to what is happening in the ocean off the Senegalese coast today.
Senevisa fish processing plant in Dakar processes 4.5 tons of shrimp a day brought in from artisanal fishermen. The local market consumes only three percent of the production of this plant. The prime fish and cuttlefish leave this plant in Styrofoam fresh packs at 5pm in Dakar and are at the Paris Orly airport at 6am.
Fish follows the money – If the Japanese pay the most for cuttlefish then it is shipped there overnight.  Senevisa is the largest trawler/fish exporter working out of Senegal.  It is an honest company trying to do a good business.  They pay fair prices for the fish from the artisanal fishermen and ship overnight to Paris or freeze and send in containers by boat.  They opened up their entire operation to me… the captains showed me their log books, told me how much it cost to operate a factory trawler (about 2000 euros a day), told me how much they could make in a day (about 3000 euros a day).  But the problem is that this nutrient rich upwelling off the Senegalese coast that brings in so many fish from the Atlantic ocean is being exploited by so many people for so much protein, that it cannot last. And it affects so much of the ecosystem because there is a disproportionate amount of fish available in this area.  It is like the last of the great plains of Buffalo.  If the Japanese came to our wild west and slaughter tons and tons of buffalo and then shipped it overseas-even employed our people to help them in the slaughter, it would be a similar situation to what is happening in the ocean off the Senegalese coast today.
Sold alive from reefs off China, striped black tip rock cod and other fish may be ordered in the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Guangzhou, China. Caught for food or aquariums, the global trade in reef fish likely tops a billion dollars a year—with many species decimated.
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue:
China’s fishing fleet has mushroomed sevenfold since the early 1980s, according to the UN. Today, it is by far the largest in the world. And though European fishermen still dominate the waters of Africa, China’s eventual supremacy is a foregone conclusion: The nation’s exploding appetite for fish, like its burgeoning demand for oil, iron and other natural resources, ensures it will elbow aside all competition. The UN Environmental Program calculates that, at its current rate of consumption, China theoretically could swallow the world’s entire seafood catch by 2023. Moreover, China is becoming fishmonger to the developed world; today, it is the United States’ third-largest supplier of seafood. “They take whatever they can get, wherever they can get it,” says Jackie Alder, a researcher at the Fisheries Center at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “The Europeans and Russians can be good pirates too. But the Chinese are absolutely single-minded.”
Indonesian reefs are being dynamited. Cyanide is used to kill entire reefs of fish so a Chinese customer can point to a fish in an aquarium and say “I’d like that one for dinner.” The idea is that they are getting the freshest fish imaginable, but the truth is that fish has taken a long journey, barely holding onto life in an antibiotic soup to get to that restaurant.  In this photograph a live blacktip grouper (not a threatened species) are available in the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Guangzhou, China. “The taste for fancy, novel, coral reef fish is spreading as wealth is spreading in mainland China,” says Yvonne Sadovy, a biologist at the University of Hong Kong. “Countries must limit export quotas, create protected areas, and encourage consumers to select less threatened species.”
Sharks are down to 10% of historical populations and a large part of that is an appetite for shark fin soup in China and other parts of Asia.
From: “The End of the Line” by Charles Clover:
In another 50 years or so, all the world’s oceans will be largely empty of everything except tiny fish trying to reach breeding age and mostly failing.
The Mediterranean will be a giant swimming pool… Swordfish and Bluefin will have disappeared just as the bison did from the great plains of North America.
The great upwelling of Africa will be devoid of fish except southern hake off Namibia, which will fetch huge prices in Spain.
Countries with growing populations along coastlines will undoubtedly starve.  The amount of fish off West Africa will be so small that Senegal will need food aid, just as Ethiopia and the Sahel do now.
Fish farming will rule and poison the open sea.  Newspapers will be full of stories about diseases and mutations working into remnant wild fish populations.
Village of Pulau Misa has some living quarters for live reef fish divers and structures out on the water with holding nets for live reef fish. The reefs in so many areas are laid bare to supply Chinese restaurants with live fish. The global trade in live reef fish may top a billion dollars a year, with many species captured by cyanide or traps. Use of dynamite to kill reef fish increases the toll taken by the live trade.
Hanging cages to hold reef fish before transport to China and Hong Kong.  These cages are just off the coast of Bimi, Indonesia. Initially reef fish only came from the South China Sea, but transport developed and fish now come from all over S.E. Asia. These fish are often used for celebratory meals in Hong Kong, but in Guangzhou the fish are so cheap and the apartments are so small that many people eat out…  And the stereotype is that there is lots of food left on the table.  Often a fish is popular because of its color… more than its taste.
This reef off Indonesia—laid bare to supply restaurants with live fish—Now the global trade in live reef fish may top a billion dollars a year, with many species captured by cyanide or traps. Use of dynamite to kill reef fish increases the toll taken by the live trade. In 2004, the hump-head wrasse was the first reef fish listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
This reef off Indonesia—laid bare to supply restaurants with live fish—now attracts divers searching for lobsters, the last remaining valuable species. The global trade in live reef fish may top a billion dollars a year, with many species captured by cyanide or traps. Use of dynamite to kill reef fish increases the toll taken by the live trade. In 2004, the humphead wrasse was the first reef fish listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Hookah divers looking for lobster just off the coast of Sape, Indonesia.  Bajo Pulau Kecil island is where they caught the lobster.  Lobster is the cockroach of the ocean.  It will survive on anything… So that is often all that is left after a reef has been ravaged by the live reef trade as this one has.  Even so, this one lobster is all they caught all day.  They did quit early for their Friday prayers, but still, not much of a catch.
Swordfish haplessly thrown into a corner of a market in the town of Zhapo China. Zhapo primarily has a jellyfish fishery and a live reef fish fishery. The whole reef fish trade crashed with the 97-98 HK stock market crash.  LRF trade is directly linked to economy.  With China coming online financially the trade is booming.  These fish are often used for celebratory meals in Hong Kong, but in Guangzhou the fish are so cheap and the apartments are so small that many people eat out…  And the stereotype is that there is lots of food left on the table.  Often a fish is popular because of its color… more than its taste.
Dockside in Hong Kong’s Sai Kung district, customers choose seafood, which they take to nearby restaurants to be prepared for the table. Here, shellfish mingle with live reef fish. Divers capture live fish using cyanide or traps, leaving coral reefs devoid of valued species such as grouper, wrasse, and coral trout. The global trade may top a billion dollars a year, but little of the profit reaches the fishers, and coastal villages are left with depleted reefs. An increasingly affluent China, along with expatriate Chinese communities in the U.S. and elsewhere, are the primary market for exotic reef fish.
For 1,700 years, jellyfish have been netted along China’s coast. Sold dried, about 170,000 tons a year are caught in Southeast Asia. Ecologists worry that in some waters as larger fish disappear and smaller fish are targeted, only low-end species like jellyfish will remain.
Salted and dried jellyfish have long been considered a delicacy by the Chinese. To fish ecologists, jellyfish may indicate trouble. In some waters where stocks of large fish collapse, jellyfish may proliferate, impeding recovery of stocks by feeding on larvae and eggs and competing for food such as zooplankton.
Zhapo, China has a huge Jellyfish fishery—the entire town slings laundry tubs full of the gelatinous, mucousy jellyfish. They fish on cloudy days when they can see the masses of jelly from their boats.  A cultural difference; the Chinese like to eat jellyfish because of the texture. To me, a jellyfish fishery is “fishing down the food chain.”  With fewer and fewer predators (sharks are down 80 percent) this kind of creature, lower on the food chain, tends to thrive and will be used more and more as a food source as the other species decline.
Zhapo, China has a huge Jellyfish fishery—the entire town slings laundry tubs full of the gelatinous, mucousy jellyfish. They fish on cloudy days when they can see the masses of jelly from their boats.  A cultural difference; the Chinese like to eat jellyfish because of the texture. To me, a jellyfish fishery is “fishing down the food chain.”  With fewer and fewer predators (sharks are down 80 percent) this kind of creature, lower on the food chain, tends to thrive and will be used more and more as a food source as the other species decline.
For 1,700 years, jellyfish have been netted along China’s coast. Sold dried, about 170,000 tons a year are caught in Southeast Asia. Ecologists worry that in some waters as larger fish disappear and smaller fish are targeted, only low-end species like jellyfish will remain.
Fisherwoman transports cart full of tuna that has just come in on boats in Zhapo, China.  Zhapo is primarily a huge Jellyfish fishery, the entire town slings laundry tubs of gelatinous mucous-like-jellyfish if it is cloudy day and they can see the masses of jelly from their boats.  There is also a reef fish trade here. Initially reef fish only came from the South China Sea, but transport developed and fish now come from all over S.E. Asia.  The whole reef fish trade crashed with the 97-98 HK stock market crash.  LRF trade is directly linked to economy.  With China coming online financially the trade is booming.  These fish are often used for celebratory meals in Hong Kong, but in Guangzhou the fish are so cheap and the apartments are so small that many people eat out…  And the stereotype is that there is lots of food left on the table.  Often a fish is popular because of its color… more than its taste.
Enterprising Icelanders have figured out how to salvage the waste from the fish factories.  They take the discarded carcasses and heads to hang them on racks to dry and send to Nigeria.  There are football fields of hand tied fish heads in the lava fields outside Hafnafjord (near the blue lagoon).  Portuguese gave the Nigerians a taste for dried fish heads at and Icelanders are very smart and capitalizing on the protein drain in Africa.
During WWII both Newfoundland and Iceland had to decide between autonomy and being ruled by another country.  Iceland saw the USA coming with its bases and its money and decided to get out from under the rule of the Danish kings.  Iceland sold fish to the USA during the war and made a lot of money and even though there wasn’t a single shot fired in Iceland, they also convinced the US to rebuild Iceland under the Marshall plan.  When the cod started to disappear in both Iceland and Newfoundland, Iceland came up with the quota system and still has cod (even though the numbers don’t seem to be increasing).  Newfoundland got caught up in the politics of fear in Ottawa and fished their cod to extinction in their waters.  Iceland broke with Denmark in 1944 and Newfoundland decided to stay with Canada in 1949.  In the forties, Newfoundland was one of the richest countries and Iceland was one of the poorest.  But with Iceland maintaining direct control and Newfoundland allowing them to be governed by Ottawa from a distance, everything changed.
This is Olga, tying a bib on one of her customers; she has the best seafood restaurant in Galicia, Spain.  The only thing Olga likes better than boiling lobster is singing Franco tunes with her fascist buddies.
Vigo, Spain has the largest biomass fish shipping port in the world and it is the home of the first fish auction.  Swordfish and sharks are hauled in by heavy machinery and by hand. Both species are down to 10 percent of their historic numbers.
A swordfish is brought ashore in Vigo, Spain, one of the world’s busiest seafood ports, handling about 675,000 metric tons of fish a year. Lower stocks of commercial species such as Atlantic cod and hake have caused a steady decline over the past five years for Spain’s fleets, which receive the EU’s heaviest subsidies. Yet Spain’s—and Europe’s—appetite for fish keeps growing. The EU is the world’s largest market, taking in 40 percent of all imported fish, with a large chunk coming from developing countries. Spaniards consume a hundred pounds (45 kilograms) of seafood a year per person, nearly double the European average and exceeded only by Lithuanians and Portuguese.
Vigo, Spain has the largest biomass fish shipping port in the world and it is the home of the first fish auction.  Swordfish and sharks are hauled in by heavy machinery and by hand. Both species are down to 10 percent of their historic numbers. A swordfish will fetch about $4.50 a pound. One of the world’s busiest seafood ports, Vigo auctions half a million tons of fish daily. But swordfish caught in the Mediterranean grow ever smaller; those in the western Atlantic, which had been overfished, seem to be recovering. On all sides, Spaniards consume its bounty with gusto. As Europe’s largest fishing nation, Spain’s people consume 80 pounds of seafood per capita, 50 per cent higher than Europe’s average. But lower fish stocks have caused a 20-year decline in Spain’s catch.
Maria Jose’s father was a Bluefin tuna fisherman and he died when his boat capsized when Maria Jose was 9 months old (she is 42 now).  Maria’s father went down with both of his brothers and his widow was moved into the older district of Burela into a subsidized home for fishermen.  Maria Jose and her two brothers were sent away to schools that were specifically for children who had lost a parent (fisherman) at sea-for orphans of fishermen. Maria Jose married a sailor (Hake fisherman) and stayed with him for 8 years. The family was raised in the same little house that is in the photographs.  Maria Jose’s mother had to work at the fish auction house in Burela, loading and unloading crates for 10 years to try to provide for her children.
A swordfish will fetch about $4.50 a pound. One of the world’s busiest seafood ports, Vigo auctions half a million tons of fish daily. But swordfish caught in the Mediterranean grow ever smaller; those in the western Atlantic, which had been overfished, seem to be recovering. On all sides, Spaniards consume its bounty with gusto. Near the Bay of Biscay, the fishing family of Maria Jose Novoa Villarejo enjoys mussels and other seafood on Sunday. As Europe’s largest fishing nation, Spain’s people consume 80 pounds of seafood per capita, 50 per cent higher than Europe’s average. But lower fish stocks have caused a 20 year decline in Spain’s catch.
In villages between Lake Victoria and the Serengeti Ecosystem, truckloads of rotting fish carcasses are driven to the local markets and sold. The filets were cut off in the processing plants in Musoma and shipped to Europe overnight, and the Africans get only the bones. This is a cotton production area and these people have just sold their crops.  They have money to buy good food, but they don’t have the option to buy their own fish from their own lakes. This is only one example of the “protein drain” in Africa.
Senegalese Artisanal Fishermen Miles out to Sea in Pirogues
With a warm upwelling and perfect nutrient conditions, the Senegal coast is the last of the wild west of fisheries. These fishermen left MBour, Senegal in the morning and are miles out to sea. Senegalese look to the ocean for protein where the Mauritanians to the north look to the desert.  Senegalese often raid Mauritanian fishing grounds.
 
Indus Valley Fisherman | Harappa, Pakistan
Surprisingly, some of the native lore of traditional fishermen is being confirmed today by science. Gone is the conceit that fish are pin-brained drones governed by instinct–a view that has made it easier to slaughter them in untold billions. “Now fish are regarded as steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment and reconciliation,” say the editors of “Learning in Fishes: From Three-second Memory to Culture,” a survey of 500 scientific papers on fish behavior that was published last September. “They also use tools . . . build complex nests and bowers . . . and can even exhibit impressive long-term memories.”
From Paul Salopek story, Fade to Blue
|