Year 4, Month 10, Day 25: Unraveling

The Vancouver Sun notes that there’s trouble in the waters:

A $32-million commercial fishery has inexplicably and completely collapsed this year on the B.C. coast.

The sardine seine fleet has gone home after failing to catch a single fish. And the commercial disappearance of the small schooling fish is having repercussions all the way up the food chain to threatened humpback whales.

Jim Darling, a Tofino-based whale biologist with the Pacific Wildlife Foundation, said in an interview Monday that humpbacks typically number in the hundreds near the west coast of Vancouver Island in summer. They were observed only sporadically this year, including by the commercial whale-watching industry.

“Humpbacks are telling us that something has changed,” he said. “Ocean systems are so complex, it’s really hard to know what it means. For one year, I don’t think there’s any reason to be alarmed, but there is certainly reason to be curious.”

Not a single fucking fish. Not one. What would they do if they only caught one, I wonder? Would it get interviewed on “Oprah”? October 15:

While there can be no doubt that economically-driven overfishing has been a huge factor in the extraordinary collapse of many fish populations, the evidence is now overwhelming that another ingredient in this toxic mix is the impact of climate change. As Earth’s oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they are becoming ever more acidic, which has devastating consequences for many forms of sea life. Furthermore, this change in the water’s chemical makeup is exacerbated by a global increase in temperature — a double-whammy which is forcing many species out of ecological niches they have occupied for centuries or millennia and into a stressful and failure-prone struggle for survival.

The interdependence of oceanic ecosystems is still poorly understood, but the empty fishing nets of the sardine industry provide tangible testimony to the unraveling fabric of aquatic life. By muddling the public discussion of this crucial issue, climate-change deniers in industry, politics, and the media are contributing to an ongoing environmental and humanitarian disaster.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 10, Day 10: Shadow-Boxing In The Dark

The Grand Falls/Windsor Falls Advertiser (Newfoundland) discusses fisheries specialist George Rose’s recent presentation:

Rose told the approximately 250 conference delegates the collapse of cod stocks, and the moratorium, was mainly due to overfishing.

However, looking ahead — whether the subject is cod, caplin, lobster, crab, shrimp or any other species — determining what amounts to a sustainable fishery is about gathering the information that will provide the best, most detailed understanding of the ever-changing situation within offshore ecosystems.

Temperatures, acidity levels, and even the amount of plastic floating in our waters all need to be considered, he said.

On climate change, “I’ve read recent reports from as diverse places as Norway, the Northeastern United States and China … all basically reporting similar phenomenon: massive changes in production of their local waters,” he said.

Rose said climate has long been recognized as “a major, major — probably the most important influence” on fisheries.

Revised an earlier letter and sent it off. October 2:

Even if we ignore the looming threat of climate change, Newfoundland’s fisheries are already feeling the devastating impact of overfishing, where the abundant catches of decades past are no longer attainable even with the most advanced technologies. Once we include heating and acidification (the two most significant oceanic impacts of the rapidly accelerating greenhouse effect) in our assessments, there’s no getting around the inevitability of catastrophic declines. There’ll be fewer fish in the coming decades, and they’ll be increasingly difficult (and expensive) to catch. You’ve heard of Peak Oil? We’ve already reached Peak Fish.

With as much as a third of Earth’s population directly or indirectly relying on the ocean for food, this constitutes a humanitarian emergency. Add climate change’s likely impacts on agriculture, and it’s a grim warning to humanity: storm clouds are gathering, and we’re in for a hell of a ride.

The fossil-fuel industry’s myopic readiness to subsidize climate-change denial in politics and the media is a grave mistake. With billions of lives hanging in the balance, these corporations are elevating the easy lure of quarterly profits over the long-term happiness and prosperity of our species.

Warren Senders