The world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, according to a study released today by an international group of ecologists and economists.
The paper, published in the journal Science, concludes that overfishing, pollution, and other environmental factors are wiping out important species across the globe, hampering the ocean's ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients and resist the spread of disease.
"We really see the end of the line now," said lead author Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada's Dalhousie University. "It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things."
The 14 researchers from Canada, Panama, Sweden and the United States spent four years analyzing all the available data on fish populations and ocean ecosystems to reach their conclusion. They found that by 2003 -- the last year for which data on global commercial fish catches is available -- 29 percent of all fished species had collapsed, and that the rate of population collapses has accelerated in recent years.
As of 1980, just 13.5 percent of fished species had collapsed, even though fishing vessels were pursuing 1,736 fewer species back then. Today, the fishing industry harvests 7,784 species commercially.
"It's like hitting the gas pedal and holding it down at a constant level," Worm said in an telephone interview. "The rate accelerates over time."
Okay. Did anybody hear this on the news? The mainstream news media should be screaming this. But most people won't hear about it and Red Lobster will go on offering its all-you-can-eat shrimp dinners (that's just obscene) and one day we'll wake up to a world of dead oceans.