March 19, 2007
12:00 Noon - 2:00 pm
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253
What is the current condition of marine fisheries globally? What are the likely contributors to that condition? What does it mean that, as a society, we are engaged in ‘eating down the marine food chain’? What are the implications of this? Is there evidence that we are losing species richness within ocean marine ecosystems? If so, what are the societal implications? Are there policies that would serve to restore marine fisheries and ocean ecosystems to a healthier state given the present rates of consumption of sea food? Would these policies be a mix of national and international efforts and, if so, over what time frame?
Dr. Anthony Socci, Senior Science Fellow, American Meteorological Society
Dr. Boris Worm, Marine Biologist and Assistant Professor in Marine Conservation Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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Dr. Daniel Pauly, Professor and Director, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
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Loss of Ocean Biodiversity: Evidence and Implications
The oceans comprise more than 90% of our biosphere, yet patterns and trends of species richness are only now being discovered. For the purposes of this presentation, changes in tuna and billfish richness serve to illustrate changes in global patterns of species richness. Recent work has also shown how global tuna and billfish richness declined over the last 50 years, between 10-50% in all oceans, signaling ecosystem-wide changes that are linked to climate change and fishing. This work has also succeeded in identifying and locating the remaining ‘global hotspots’ of tuna and billfish richness, two of which reside in U.S. territorial waters. These hotspots seem to attract a large number of species from predators down to plankton and are important candidates for high-seas marine protected areas.
Not surprisingly, the loss of marine species has adverse consequences for people as well. Fish stock collapses are becoming more frequent, while their recovery potential declines. We also observe a loss of ecosystem stability and water quality. Loss of marine species is impairing the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet, the available data also suggest that at this point these trends still appear to be reversible.
Status and Outlook of Marine Fisheries and Ecosystems
Marine fisheries have expanded from northern shallow waters into deeper waters and towards the tropics and the southern hemisphere as stocks became depleted on the shelves of industrialized countries, notably as a result of government subsidies. These expansions previously masked the decline of traditional stocks. They have now ceased to do so, and it is now clear the overall world marine fisheries catch has been declining since the late 1980s. In concert with this trend are massive impacts on exploited ecosystems, the effects of which are inducing changes in the species composition of world catches, now tending toward smaller fish lower in the food web and toward invertebrates such as jellyfish. The latter process is now widely known as 'fishing down marine food webs'.
The implications of these trends for the world's food supply is that capture fisheries on the long term will not be able to support the increasing demand for high quality seafood emanating from developed countries. Indeed, overfishing threatens the present levels of supplies. Complementing this supply with marine aqua culture is problematic because of the limited supply of small fish used as feed and which are increasingly sought after for direct human consumption.
Dr. Daniel Pauly grew up in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, but completed high school and university studies in the Federal Republic of Germany, where he acquired a “Diplom” (= MSc) in 1974, and a Doctorate degree in Fisheries Biology in 1979 at the University of Kiel, Germany. He joined the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), in Manila, Philippines, in July 1979 as a Postdoctoral Fellow, and gradually became Program/Division Director.
In October 1994, he joined the Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada, as a tenured Professor, while remaining ICLARM’s Principal Science Adviser until December 1997, and the Science Advisor of its FishBase project until 2000. In 2003, Dr. Pauly became Director of the Fisheries Centre. Since 1999, Dr. Pauly has been the Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us Project, based at the Fisheries Centre, UBC, where he continues to investigate the impact of fisheries on the world’s marine ecosystems.
His scientific output, mainly dedicated to the management of fisheries and to
ecosystem modeling, constitutes well over 500 publications. In addition, the concepts, methods and software he co-developed are in use throughout the world.
In 2001, Dr. Pauly was awarded the Murray Newman Award for Excellence in Marine Conservation Research, sponsored by the Vancouver Aquarium, and the Oscar E. Sette Award of the Marine Fisheries Section, American Fisheries Society. He was named a‘Honorarprofessor’ at Kiel University, Germany in late 2002, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Science) in early 2003, and became one of UBC’s ‘Distinguished University Scholars’ in mid-2003. The December 2003, issue of Scientific American listed him as one of the year’s “50 Research Leaders.” He is also the recipient of the American Fisheries Society Award of Excellence, the Roger Revelle Medal from IOC/ UNESCO, the Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award of the Society of Conservation Biology, 2004. In 2005, he received the International Cosmos Prize, from the Expo'90 Foundation, Japan, and an Honorary Doctorate from Aristotle University of Thessanoniki, Greece. That same year he was awarded the Volvo Environment Prize (shared) from the Volvo Foundation, Stockholm, 2006.
Profiles of Dr. Pauly have been published in Science on April 19, 2002, Nature on Jan. 2, 2003, the New York Times on Jan. 21, 2003 and the Globe and Mail, October 29, 2005.
Dr. Boris Worm is marine biologist and an Assistant Professor in Marine Conservation Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He received his Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography in 2000 from the University of Kiel, Germany. His research interests focus on the causes and consequences of changes in marine biodiversity on a global scale. Of particular interest are the broader ecosystem effects of fishing.
Dr. Worm has authored 40 scientific papers, book chapters and one book. His research has repeatedly attracted international media attention, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, CNN, among others. He is the recipient of several major research awards, including the Government of Canada Award, two national awards for Marine Science in Germany, the German Research Foundations Heinz Maier-Leibnitz-Preis, and the Daimler-Benz Research Award, granted by The German Academy of Sciences, Berlin. He was also inducted into the German Junior Academy of Sciences.
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