October 27, 2021
Imagine a world without fish. Just empty, dead oceans. That could easily be the end of our species as well. But is it even possible? Could the oceans ever run out of fish?
In 2006, a controversial scientific study titled “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services” was published in the Journal “Science”. And it didn’t take long for it to take the media world by storm. That is perhaps due to its pessimistic -if not dreadful- prediction that our oceans could run out of fish by the year 2048. The prediction has even been featured as a “Global Challenge” in the “World Counts” initiative. Recently, the popular documentary “Seaspiracy” mentioned this dreadful prediction to motivate viewers to reduce or even eliminate seafood. This prompted some negative responses, since the study’s co-author, Prof. Boris Worm, has publicly stated that he has been more optimistic about our oceans’ future since then.
“The 2006 paper is now 15 years old and most of the data in it is almost 20 years old,” Prof. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, told the BBC. “Since then, we have seen increasing efforts in many regions to rebuild depleted fish populations.” Although the study’s co-authors seem to be more optimistic towards the future of our oceans, that is because there have been consistent efforts to protect fish in certain regions of the world. Even if the prediction of our oceans running out of fish by the year 2048 seems out of reach at the moment, that doesn’t mean that overfishing and other causes of declining fish populations are no longer a problem. According to a 1992 scientific report titled “Loss of Biodiversity in Aquatic Ecosystems: Evidence from Fish Faunas”, there are five major causes for fish population declines and loss of biodiversity in our oceans:
1. competition for water;
2. habitat alteration;
4. introduction of exotic species;
5. commercial exploitation.
You may have heard of the latter (commercial exploitation) as “overfishing”. Today, Revo™ tackles the topic of overfishing and presents a list of reasons why you should switch to plant-based seafood and specifically to our Revo™ products.
The term “overfishing” is quite self-explanatory. It is the removal of a species of fish from a body of water at a rate that it cannot replenish. This can result in underpopulation if not extinction.
To make the subject a bit clearer, imagine a lake with a well-balanced diversity of fish species: bass, carp, and perch for example. A nearby village survived for thousands of years thanks to this lake. The locals would catch enough fish to feed their families, without endangering the fish population.
Years later, a big fishing company targets the lake and starts fishing one of the species, let’s say the common carp, using a fishing practice that herds and captures the target species by towing a net along the lake floor. That is called bottom trawling and, along with cyanide fishing, dynamite fishing, ghost fishing, and by-catch, it is one of the most unsustainable fishing methods.
It doesn’t take long for the carp species in the lake to reduce in numbers. The fish are caught before they have the chance to reproduce. This affects the lake’s biodiversity, since one’s fish lifecycle is intertwined with another’s. The locals find it difficult to catch fish to feed their families and the big fishing company moves to another lake to overfish from.
Answering to whether our oceans could run out of fish in the future is quite a tricky one and marine biologists fail to agree on a definite answer. As we’ve seen earlier, the dreadful 2048 prediction is not widely accepted by the scientific community. However, all this time we might be asking the wrong question. The question is not whether our oceans will be depleted of fish in the near future. If this is the case, then there is little hope for us. The real question should be: do companies still practice overfishing? If yes, is it really a problem? The 2020 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report stated that “34% of the fish stocks of the world’s marine fisheries were classified as overfished” in 2017.
That is an alarming finding, since overfishing is by default unsustainable and linked to population decline and even extinction for certain species. In 2019, a report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) stated the following: “the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide”. The report was based on a systematic review of about 15.000 scientific and government sources and linked the findings to overfishing practices.
Another reason why the question “could our oceans run out of fish” is partly misleading is because it excludes freshwater fish, which, according to studies, are under great threat. According to the Guardian, a recent report from 16 global conservation organizations showed that populations of migratory freshwater fish have plummeted by 76% since 1970, and large fish have been all but wiped out in most rivers. Overfishing, along with pollution, and climate change were mentioned as major threats to the freshwater fish populations.
Since overfishing is a global problem that affects saltwater and freshwater fish, what can we do about it? Many people have chosen to reduce or even eliminate seafood from their diets to lower the demand for it. This is of course a personal choice. Others find it hard to cut down a type of food that was once a big part of their diet. What could they order in their friend’s dinner party at a fish restaurant, for example? Thankfully, many revolutionary products have since emerged. Have you heard of plant-based seafood?
Revo™ Foods is a European company that has revolutionized seafood as we know it. Founded in Vienna, Revo™ Foods uses the super-food (super-seafood to be precise) of the future, algae, to create nutritious and healthy plant-based seafood alternatives. Take our Revo™ Smoked Salmon for example. You can eat salmon bagels and sandwiches without hurting any fish.
Are you ready to ride our wave? Are you Revo?
Worm, B. et al. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science 314, Pages 787–790, November 2006, https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1132294
Jeffrey A. Hutchings, John D. Reynolds, Marine Fish Population Collapses: Consequences for Recovery and Extinction Risk, BioScience, Volume 54, Issue 4, April 2004, Pages 297–309, https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0297:MFPCCF]2.0.CO;2
Moyle P.B., Leidy R.A. (1992) Loss of Biodiversity in Aquatic Ecosystems: Evidence from Fish Faunas. In: Fiedler P.L., Jain S.K. (eds) Conservation Biology. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-6426-9_6
FAO. 2020. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in action. Rome. https://doi.org/10.4060/ca9229en