April 7, 2009

Sound FISHY? (updated 9-23-09)

Throw a net into the sea . . . and pull out NO FISH? That's happening more and more as over-fishing continues worldwide. I witnessed it up close last summer while snorkeling in both the Aegean and Ionian seas. Somehow I expected this long-awaited vacation in the Greek isles to provide more awesome fish-sighting than past snorkeling in the Caribbean. Locals in both Turkey and Greece warned us that we'd see "only small fish" and few of them. But we were still very surprised and disappointed.

When you think of it, the Mediterranean waters have been fished since Biblical times. The Chesapeake wasn't heavily fished until recent times, and the crab and oyster harvest is already hurting as John Smith's journal proves.

Now the BAD news (9-23-09 update): The bluefin tuna, which has been overfished almost to extinction in the Mediterranean Sea, will continue to be fished there thanks to a move by France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta to block a ban on trade of the declining species. Monaco introduced the idea of banning bluefin tuna trade earlier this year, and two weeks ago the European Union voted to support the ban. Despite the backing of 21 EU governments — and despite a speech in July by French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling for the ban — the idea is now derailed.