WWF comments on Seaspiracy

Posted on March, 31 2021

The Seaspiracy documentary highlights some of the major issues facing our ocean today, such as plastic pollution, climate change, overfishing, ghost gear and safety of observers and fisheries workers, all of which WWF is engaged in addressing.

At WWF, we know that a healthy ocean is vital to the health of our planet, and people everywhere.

 

The Seaspiracy documentary highlights some of the major issues facing our ocean today, such as plastic pollution, climate change, overfishing, ghost gear and safety of observers and fisheries workers, all of which WWF is engaged in addressing.

 

The world’s ocean produces around half of all the oxygen we breathe (thanks to phytoplankton, tiny single-celled ocean plants) and absorbs half of all man-made climate-warming carbon dioxide. Fish, a critical part of healthy ocean ecosystems, provide food security and critical livelihoods to millions of people in vulnerable coastal communities around the world. 

 

Specifically, fishing and associated industries provide meaningful work and essential nutrition for millions of individuals, particularly in SE Asia, and fishing is part of the fabric of many coastal communities challenged by poverty. And yet, fishing is also the greatest threat to marine life, both through overfishing, and through its impacts on other marine creatures such as dolphins and sharks and on coastal and marine habitats. WWF works with policy makers, coastal communities, retailers and the fishing industry with the goal of ensuring that fishing is well managed, bycatch is minimised, critical habitats are protected and consumers are educated about the choices they make. 

 

We cannot have a healthy ocean supporting life on Earth, us included, if overfishing is not urgently reined in. The latest UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) State of Fisheries and Aquaculture report shows that the percentage of fisheries classified as overfished continues to increase and is now 34% of all assessed fisheries worldwide. Only a decade ago, this percentage was a quarter, and in 1974, the baseline for the report, 10% of assessed stocks, were overfished. As much as a quarter of all fish caught are ‘illegal, unregulated and unreported’, and millions of fish are caught unnecessarily and thrown back dead (called ‘discards’).

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-ranging effects on fisheries worldwide, exacerbating challenges to sustainable management of fish populations. Many weaknesses have been exposed, highlighting the need to develop a more modern approach to fisheries, including well designed and effectively managed marine protected areas (MPAs), the elimination of harmful subsidies and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. It is essential that fish populations and our ocean are managed sustainably to support the food and nutrition of billions of people worldwide. 

 

As shown in the documentary, fishing observers play a crucial role in ensuring that fishing takes place legally, sustainably, to regulations established by national and international authorities and conventions. Tens of millions of people work in the fishing sector, either at capture, during processing or as part of scientific data collection. WWF will continue to call for effective regulatory management measures and monitoring, including greater use of technology across the global fishing fleet, and other measures to ensure the welfare of fishing crews on board is protected. We welcome recent international recognition of the dangerous nature of these crucial jobs at sea and are calling for more timely and thorough investigations when any reports are made. Fisheries cannot be regarded as sustainable when allegations of serious human and labour rights violations continue.

 

Our planet’s health—and our own well-being—is dependent on a vibrant ocean rich with natural resources. WWF is working with government decision-makers, industries, the private sector, and communities to give our seas a healthier future, and we want to see strong commitment from all those involved in managing and using our ocean. 

 

The problems raised in the Seaspiracy documentary are confronting, but as Oceans Champion Sylvia Earle so powerfully argues, everyone has a role and together we can make a difference. Discover more on WWF’s work here. If you want to join WWF’s campaign against ghost gear, sign the petition here.




 
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