Empty oceans

For a list of what types of seafood you can buy that are harvested in a sustainable way, go to the Monterey bay Aquarium Web site at www.mbayaq.org

A world without fish to eat by the middle of the century—that’s the very real possibility if human beings don’t change their ways, a group of fisheries experts and ecologists stated last week in the journal Science.

The consequences of this depletion would be staggering. Besides being a $71 billion industry, fish provide the primary source of protein for more than a billion people, especially in developing countries.

Analyzing dozens of studies, along with fishing data collected by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and other sources, the scientists projected current rates of depletion into the future and realized that the oceans would reach widespread collapse—meaning fisheries reduced to 10 percent of historic levels—by 2048.

The good news? It’s not too late to turn the process around. If protected, fish species can rebound in time. Consumers can play a part by eating only sustainably harvested seafood. And commercial fishers need to develop better practices.

Yeah, we know, it’s hard enough to worry about global warming without adding the oceans to the list. And did somebody say “deforestation”? If the 20th century was the Time of Great Wars, the 21st century is shaping up as the Time of Great Challenges. We need to learn to live on this planet in an enduring way. We have no choice.