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Thursday, May 15, 2003

An ocean empty of fish?

Industrialised fishing has changed the world's oceans to such an extent that the sea can no longer be considered a natural system, according to a major 10-year-long study published in the science journal Nature. Stocks of the large predatory species have literally been decimated - only 10 per cent remain.

"We are in massive denial and continue to bicker over the last shrinking numbers of survivors, employing satellites and sensors to catch the last fish left," according to the study's lead author Ransom Myers of Dalhousie University in Canada. "We have to understand how close to extinction some of these populations really are. If present fishing levels persist, these great fish will go the way of the dinosaurs."

Co-author Boris Worm of Kiel University in Germany says "The impact we have had on ocean ecosystems has been vastly underestimated. It could bring about a complete re-organization of ocean ecosystems, with unknown global consequences."

Authors' press release
Plenty more fish in the sea? - Guardian
Great Fish Going the Way of the Dinosaurs - Environmental News Service
Few of world's large fish remain - Boston Globe

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