This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
A study has warned that seafood supplies from the world's oceans could be
almost gone by the middle of the century.
The researchers say there has already been a collapse in wild populations of
almost one-third of currently fished seafoods. The study says that means their
catch has fallen by 90 percent from their highest levels.
Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, led the
international team that did the study. Professor Worm says species have recently
been disappearing from oceans at increasing speed. At this rate, he says, all
seafood species could collapse by 2048.
Other studies have also warned about the dangers of overfishing and the effects on ocean
environments. But not everyone thinks the oceans are likely to be empty in fifty
years. Some scientists said parts of the world do have problems, but others are
doing a good job of protecting fish populations. Government officials in several
countries with large fishing industries also questioned the research.
The study appeared earlier this month in Science magazine.
The researchers say damage to oceans affects not only fish populations but
also the productivity of ecosystems. These complex systems help control water
quality. The scientists say the loss of different kinds of sea life appeared to
increase the risk of fish kills and beach closures from harmful algae growth.
The scientists examined the results of 32 experiments and
observed 48 protected areas. They also looked at records of catches
worldwide. They studied records from the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization for 1950 to 2003.
And they examined archeological information and other historical records for
twelve coastal areas. That research reached back over a thousand years.
Boris Worm says the findings were, in his words, "beyond anything we
suspected." But he also said the situation is not too late to correct. He said
that with good fisheries management, some species could completely recover in
three to ten years.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn
Watson. You can learn more about agriculture, and download transcripts and MP3
files of our reports, at voaspecialenglish. I'm Steve Ember.