Conservationists See Risks of Overfishing
1. Conservationists are warning of a potential disaster in Antarctica as China seeks to exploit the world’s last untapped ocean. Chinese trawlers are preparing to sail for the Southern Ocean to harvest krill, the shrimp-like creatures on which the continent’s colonies of penguins and seals survive.
2. Two ships were sent this year to fish the swarms of krill that converge off the coast of Antarctica, which also sustains the blue whales that cruise in deeper waters. China is planning a new expedition as part of a 5-year exploration program to investigate the potential of krill to provide protein and omega-3 oils to fuel its booming fish-farming industry.
3. Depletion of the food could have disastrous consequences. Marine scientists complain that overfishing had consumed some 95% of large fish in many of the world’s seas and pushed some species to the brink of collapse. Although the Chinese krill catches have so far been small – at about 115,000 tonnes a year from a stock that scientists estimate could support a harvest of 3.5 million tonnes – they disguise the wide dispersal of the krill.
4. Gerry Leape of the Pew Environment Trust says: “The problem is one of prey depletion for land based krill predators. As they are forced to move farther offshore to feed, this could impact on their reproductive success.” The inefficiency in farming and food and the risks to the environment are exhibited once more.