Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is calling for a global ban on all corporate and heavy-gear fishing technologies. "Unless we take aggressive and radical action soon, the world will lose most commercial fish species and we will cause irreparable damage to global marine ecosystems," said Captain Paul Watson, the founder and president of the international marine conservation society from on board the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat on the South coast of Australia.
Sea Shepherd is calling for a worldwide ban on longlines, driftnets, drag trawl nets, and purse seine nets. The Society is also calling for the elimination of all commercial fishing vessels with crews exceeding six individuals.
"We need to think small. Sustainable fishing can only be sustainable through localized community based fishing practices," said Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director Sean O'Hearn.
For the last six years, Sea Shepherd has been aggressively opposing illegal fishing activities inside the water of the Galapagos Marine Reserve of Ecuador.
The steady diminishment of marine life in the Galapagos is an indication of what is happening throughout the world's oceans. If we cannot save a protected World Heritage site like the Galapagos Marine Reserve, what chance do unprotected areas have?
"The bottom line is really one of supply and demand," said Captain Watson. "The supply is simply no longer there to meet the demand. Species will become rarer; fish will become more expensive and then will simply disappear. This will have a devastating impact on the more than one billion people in underdeveloped nations that depend on fish for survival."
More than half the fish taken from the ocean is converted into animal feed or wasted as by-catch from targeted species. Over 90% of the larger fish of all species have been removed. Shark populations are suffering an annual removal of over one hundred million animals.
"We must stop feeding fish and other seafood to cows and chickens, cats and dogs. We have transformed farm animals and pets into the primary marine carnivores on the planet," said Captain Watson. "If that is not unnaturally perverse, I don't know what is!"
Sea Shepherd promotes abstinence from seafood but acknowledges that this is not realistic for all peoples - especially peoples in underdeveloped nations. The large corporate fisheries are removing large quantities of fish using extremely wasteful methods at the expense of the poorest peoples in the world.
"The writing is on the wall and the signs can be plainly seen. We continue our present fishing practices at the peril of the human species. For those who see this as a radical demand, I should point out that the consequences of doing nothing will be catastrophic," said Captain Paul Watson.
Sea Shepherd ships routinely remove and destroy illegal longlines and driftnets from the ocean. "Last year I had to slash open the purse seine of an American tuna seiner that we caught in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. We released over 10 tons of tuna. The captain said he was going to report us to the U.S. Coast Guard until I reminded him that he was in Ecuadorian waters and we were intervening with permission of the Galapagos National Park," Captain Watson said.
The oceans today are like the old Wild West - lawless, ruthless, and violent. Tens of thousands of commercial fishing vessels from around the world are literally sucking the life out of the depths.
They must be stopped.