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UNEP have apparently projected a collapse of commercial fisheries by 2050. (Photo: Seafood Services Australia )

Anger over UN claims

Click on the flag for more information about Australia AUSTRALIA
Monday, September 27, 2010, 16:30 (GMT + 9)

Seafood Services Australia (SSA) have criticised a United Nations agency for perpetuating the myth that commercial fish stocks may collapse worldwide by mid-century. 

The SSA Chairman, Geoff Gorrie, has lashed out against the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) due to a draft report which claims that some researchers estimate that virtually all commercial fisheries will have collapsed by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to bring far more intelligent management to fisheries both in the north and the south.

"This simply isn't true," said Gorrie in a press release. "It is disappointing that a UN agency would make such an ill-founded statement." He also said that “continued reference to the projected collapse of commercial fisheries by 2050 in UNEP reports and statements, risks exposing that valuable UN institution to international criticism and ridicule."

The chairman has also written to UNEP, expressing SSA’s concern, stating that their projected decline in fish stocks is both 'misleading and damaging'.

The primary source of references to virtual extinction of commercial fish species by mid-century is from a paper authored by ecologist Dr. Boris Worm and others in 2006, published the SSA. 

In this paper, Dr Worm claims that 'Species have been disappearing from ocean ecosystems and this trend has recently been accelerating. Now we begin to see some of the consequences. For example, if the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime – by 2048.'

Gorrie said with regards to this that “this assertion was widely criticised by international fisheries scientists."

Subsequently, Dr Worm later authored a paper with fisheries scientist Ray Hilborn and others that took a 'more balanced view' over the future of commercial fisheries.

Gorrie also explained the main reason why he believes that the UN's claims don't apply to Australia, by stating in a press release by SSA that "whilst some fish stocks in parts of the world are being over-fished and corrective action was required, the success of Australia’s fisheries management is internationally recognised. Rationalisation of Australian fishing fleets has already been implemented, with considerable reductions in fishing vessel numbers, and Australia also has a very large percentage of its waters covered by marine parks.”

By Brian Loubet Jambert


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