Not Finding Nemo


It is widely agreed that aquatic life and fisheries are in global decline (see "Ocean Rescue," cover story July/August 2005). However, a new report says the damage could be worse than previously suspected. Appearing in Science, the report summarized a four-year study by a team of ecologists and economists, and concluded that at current rates of over-fishing almost all marine life harvested by humans will be wiped out before 2050. The scientists analyzed the effects of marine pollution, climate change, over-fishing and unwanted by-catch on the productivity and stability of our oceans. According to lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, "At this point, 29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed—that is, their catch has declined by 90 percent. If the long-term trend continues, all fish species are projected to collapse within my lifetime—by 2048." Not long after, Greenpeace released a study about the "Trash Vortex"—a swirling mass of plastic pollution near Hawaii that has grown as large as Texas. Greenpeace scientist Adam Walters says, "The danger to marine life has been known for decades, but the scale of the problem has not been realized."

—Shannon Huecker