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  • Our world is a world of water. The oceans cover 71% of the surface of the Earth and

  • provide us with the oxygen we need for every two breaths we take.

  • It may be the case that much of the marine life we see today is lost to history.

  • And as the seas continue to change, we may find that much of the life around us

  • can only ever be seen through a screen.

  • [EMPTY OCEANS]

  • [IS THE WORLD RUNNING OUT OF FISH?]

  • [A VIDEO AND WRITTEN REPORT ON WHAT THE MOST UP-TO-DATE RESEARCH SAYS ABOUT THE DIRE STATE OF OUR OCEANS.

  • BY EMILY MORAN BARWICK OF BITE SIZE VEGAN]

  • [THE WRITTEN VERSION OF THIS VIDEO CONTAINING THOROUGH CITATIONS FOR EVERY FACT, FIGURE AND

  • STUDY, ALONG WITH A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF OVER 100 SOURCES, IS AVAILABLE AT

  • WWW.BITESIZEVEGAN.COM/EMPTYOCEANS AND LINKED IN THIS VIDEO DESCRIPTION]

  • Hi it's Emily from Bite Size Vegan and welcome to another vegan nugget. The health of our

  • oceans is absolutely vital to all life on this planet, including those of us on land.

  • In fact the oceans are the only reason our planet even has life. Earth’s first breath

  • of oxygen came from cyanobacteria over 2.7 billion years ago.

  • But now the oceans are facing total destruction from the very beings they brought to life: humans.

  • The collapse of our oceans will spell disaster for all life on this planet.

  • As marine life conservationist Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd says,

  • "If the oceans die, we all die.”

  • Humans have fished the oceans for thousands of years, but with the rise of commercial

  • fishing methods, pollution, runoff, and habitat destruction, marine animal populations are

  • no longer able to replenish themselves fast enough.

  • This video is going to look into the vital question: is our ocean running out of fish?

  • And if so, what is the implication for life on this planet?

  • This issue is incredibly complex and we will barely be touching the surface.

  • To understand the depletion of marine life from our oceans, me must address the main causes:

  • overfishing, ocean dead zones, pollution, and habitat destruction. Were also going

  • to look into what the main source of this oceanic destruction is and why it’s rarely

  • or never discussed by those individuals and organizations

  • dedicated to protecting the oceans and their inhabitants.

  • Let’s start with the most obvious and oft-discussed reason: overfishing.

  • 90-100 million tonnes of fish are pulled from our oceans each year with some sources even

  • estimating 150 million tonnes. From the 1950’s to 2011 worldwide catches increased

  • 5 fold while the amount of fish in sea was reduced by ½. 3/4 of the world’s fisheries

  • are exploited or depleted and some scientists predict that well see fishless oceans by 2048.

  • According to the most current report in 2014 from the Food and Agriculture Organization

  • of the Untied Nations, “the world’s marine fisheries have expanded continuously to a

  • production peak of 86.4 million tonnes in 1996 but have since exhibited a general declining trend."

  • However, a more recent study published in 2016 challenges these statistics, finding

  • gross underreporting of catches as well as issues with the FAO’s data entry methods

  • leading to underrepresentation. The study’s creators, Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller, “suggest

  • that catch actually peaked at 130 million tonnes,” rather than the FAO’s 86.4 million,

  • and has been declining much more strongly since.” Their reconstruction of total catches

  • showed a decline of over three times that of the reported data as presented by the FAO.

  • With 60% of West Africa’s and a staggering 92% of China’s industrial fishing remaining

  • unreported, even this corrected figure may not capture the full magnitude of commercial fishing.

  • Statistics on ocean life in general remain cloudy, both due to the practical difficulty

  • of tracking marine life and the terminology used by the tracking organizations.

  • In their 2012 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report,

  • the FAO found that 87.3% of fish stocks were fully exploited or overexploited.

  • However, comparing this figure to the reports before and after is no easy feat.

  • Between their 2010 and 2012 reports, the FAO had reduced it’s level of exploitation terminology

  • from 6 to 3 categories. Now, in the most recent report from 2014, theyve further clouded the issue,

  • replacingexploitedwithfishedand introducing two vague categories termed

  • sustainableandunsustainable levels.” This terminology has the dual effect of both

  • making the situation sound less dire and making comparison between the reports unnecessarily difficult.

  • But when you pick through the data and unravel the terminology, the upward trend of fish

  • stock depletion becomes clear. The bottom line is that as of the most current report

  • from 2014 using 2011 data, less than 10% of our world’s fisheries remain unexploited.

  • It’s not just the amount of fish being taken from the ocean for food that is the issue.

  • Far more devastating are those non-target species unintentionally captured, termed bycatch,

  • or more accurately, bykill. According to the FAO, for every 1 pound of fish caught, up

  • to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as bykill, though figures

  • can be as high as 20lbs of untargeted species for every pound of targeted animals killed.

  • A report that just came out a few weeks before this video found that in select US fisheries

  • alone, bycatch in 2013 totaled approximately 689.1 million pounds.

  • All of the industrial fishing methods used around the world come with the high cost of

  • bycatch. One study analyzed bycatch solely from pelagic longline fishing in the Pacific

  • Ocean. Longlining is a method which uses a main fishing line up to 100 kilometers in

  • length, with secondary lines branching off it, each set with hundreds of thousands of

  • barbed, baited hooks. The study found that 4.4 million non-targeted marine animals are

  • killed as bycatch due to pelagic longline fishing in the Pacific Ocean every year, including,

  • on average, 3.3 million sharks, 1 million marlins, 59,000 sea turtles, close to 77,000

  • albatrosses, and almost 20,000 dolphins and whales.

  • Trawling, the primary method used for shrimp, is often referred to as the ocean equivalent

  • of clear-cutting rainforest with 80-98% of unintended catches being

  • thrown back into the sea, dead.

  • It’s estimated that 650,000 marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and seals, are

  • killed or seriously injured every year by commercial fisheries outside the United States.

  • Because of this, almost every foreign fish product sold in the United States enters the

  • U.S. market in violation of federal law, namely the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which

  • has remained pitifully unenforced for over 40 years. With 90% of all seafood consumed

  • in the United States coming from foreign sources, this means that the American seafood industry

  • has a large hand in devastating marine mammal populations while grossly violating its own federal law.

  • The mechanical method used for fishing isn’t the only issue; there is also the method of

  • species targeting. Humans tend to go after the biggest fish first until they are no longer

  • available. Then they move on down the chain, a process marine biologist Daniel Pauly termed

  • fishing down marine food webs." The removal of apex predators leads to what’s called

  • trophic downgradingwhere the loss of predators allows other species to grow unimpeded,

  • upsetting the entire ecosystem.

  • One study suggests that the removal of sharks may contribute to climate change by leaving

  • the unchecked numbers of species to feast on the ocean’s vegetation, releasing the

  • ancient carbon found there in massive quantities. Dr. Peter Macreadie, one of the study’s

  • authors, cautioned thatIf we just lose 1 per cent of the oceans' blue carbon ecosystems,

  • it would be equivalent to releasing 460 million tonnes of carbon annually, which is about

  • the equivalent of about 97 million cars. It's about equivalent to

  • Australia's annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

  • With 73 million sharks killed every year for the shark fin industry and 40-50 million sharks

  • dying ever year as by-kill, not to mention the impact of shark culls, the ocean’s most

  • vital predators are under attack. And the repercussions of their decimation will affect us all.

  • Not only do fishers move from species to species, but they will also move from area to area,

  • decimating one before moving onto the next.

  • For example, 33% of the EU's seafood comes from developing nations.

  • While overfishing is certainly the most obvious drain on the world’s fish, and the most

  • talked about, it is by no means the only cause. Ocean dead zones are a huge threat to marine

  • life. Dead zones, or hypoxic zones, are areas of the ocean where there has been such a reduction

  • in oxygen that animal life suffocates and dies.

  • While ocean protection organizations will mention dead zones, they by and large ignore

  • their number one cause: animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of

  • not only ocean dead zones, but also species extinction, water pollution, and habitat destruction,

  • all of which severely impact our oceans.

  • In the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, Dr. Richard Oppenlander discuses the

  • immense impact of land-based animal agriculture on our oceans: “Livestock operations on

  • land has causedor created more than 500 nitrogen-flooded dead zones around

  • the world in our oceans. It comprises more than 95,000 square miles of areas completely

  • devoid of life. So any meaningful discussion about the state of our oceans has to always begin

  • by frank discussions about land-based animal agriculture, which is not what our conservation

  • groups, Oceana being the largest one in the world now -- the most influential, as well

  • as others -- it’s not what is at the apex of their discussions.”

  • In addition to not acknowledging the main cause of water pollution, habitat destruction,

  • species extinction, and ocean dead zones, Oceana and other major ocean defense organizations

  • propose that the solution to the decimation of ocean life is to eat sustainable seafood.

  • Unfortunately, there is no such thing as sustainable seafood. With whales dying from starvation,

  • and 90% of all large fish species gone, the ocean can’t even sustain itself, let alone

  • the up to 150 million tonnes of sea life we pull from it every year. Additionally, sustainable

  • seafood labels also do not account for the greenhouse gas emissions caused by fishing.

  • The 2013 State of the Ocean Report stated, “Not only are we already experiencing

  • severe declines in many species, to the point of commercial extinction in some cases, and

  • an unparalleled rate of regional extinctions of habitat typeswe now face losing marine

  • species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation.

  • Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing

  • through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat

  • lossthe next globally significant extinction event in the ocean.”

  • It’s clear that wild fish and marine animals are in danger. So what about farming fish?

  • Isn’t that an ideal solution? Wouldn’t it reduce the amount

  • of fish we're taking form the sea?

  • Sadly, the opposite is true. When fish farms, or aquaculture took off in the 1950’s, the

  • number of wild caught fish also rose dramatically. From 1950 to 2001, fish farming increased

  • 38 fold from 1 million tonnes to 38 million tonnes.

  • Fish farms actually increase the number of wild fish caught because farmed carnivorous

  • species requires large inputs of wild fish for feed. Aquaculture systems also modify

  • and destroy wild fish habitats, pollute the water with waste disposal, introduce exotic

  • species and are breeding grounds for pathogens and pests.

  • Today, the majority of wild-caught fish go to feed our farmed fish as well as our pigs,

  • cows and chickens. In an extremely thorough and mathematically challenging article,

  • Harish Sethu of CountingAnimals.com deduced that the United States alone uses more than

  • 5.6 billion pounds of wild-caught fish to feed the animals we eat, with between 144 and 293

  • wild sea animals killed annually to feed the farmed fish and shrimp

  • eaten by the average American consumer.

  • By the best estimate allowed with hindrance of the FAO’s underreporting and impersonal

  • quantifying of sea life by the tonne and not the individual, every year we kill over

  • 2.8 trillion fish. That’s 2.7 trillion more every year than the number of humans to have

  • every existed in the history of our species.

  • If fishing is so unsustainable, why is it continuing at a frenzied pace? Well, it’s

  • no surprise that a huge motivator is money. A 2010 study found that, “global fisheries

  • subsidies for 2003 are between US$ 25 and 29 billionThese results imply that the

  • global community is paying the fishing industry billions each year to continue fishing even

  • when it would not be profitable otherwiseeffectively funding the over-exploitation of marine resources.”

  • Now all that weve covered in this video has not even touched on the ethical side of fishing.