Fish and chips could be off the menu for mankind in less than 50 years. That is according to researchers in an article published in the US journal Science. By analysing historical records and scientific data going back to the 1960s, the experts found that marine biodiversity has declined dramatically.
The fate of entire ecosystems is at stake say the researchers who predict that by 2048, if nothing is done, catches for all species will decline by 90 percent. Close to one third of species are already in steep decline. Professor Boris Worm of Canada’s Dalhousie University led the study: “We see the end of the line. We see where this trend, which is a very strong trend, is heading. If we go on like we did over the last fifty years, there will be no viable fisheries left within our lifetimes.”
Researchers blame overfishing and destruction of habitat. Weakened ecosystems will become more vulnerable to disease and invasive species and less able to recover from the effects of climate change, pollution and over-exploitation. But the situation is not irreversible according to Professor Worm:
“If those areas are sufficiently protected, we’ll see recovery of ocean species and with it, the stability and productivity of the ocean ecosystem comes back with great economic benefits.” The study proposes a number of solutions including marine-life reserves and no-fishing zones, as well as certain kinds of fish farming.