Bad News and Good News

The Bad News is -
A recent study claiming dramatic reductions in global marine fish stocks has received wide attention.  The analysis, published in the scientific journal Nature, indicates a 90% decline in populations of large predatory fish has occurred over the past 50 years. This study by Dr. Ransom Myers and Dr. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia states "Our analysis suggests that the global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fishes."

This sounds near catastrophic and the report has already been widely cited but is it true? The Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N. has catch statistics  for world fisheries on their website going back to 1961.  Here is what they show: The  global catch for pelagic fishes in 1961 was 7.3 million tonns.  It showed an increasing trend until the late 1980s and has remained at around 40 million tonns since then.  The peak year was 1994 at 44.5 million tonns.  The most recent year for which statistics were available was 1999 at 40.4 million tonns.  The catch for demersal fishes was 9.7 million tonns in 1961. This rises to around 20 million tonns in the early 1980s and peaks at 21.9 million tonns in 1987. The figure for 1999 is 20.2 million tonns.  Breakdowns for various groups of fishes from 1994 through 2000 show similar patterns for tunas, sharks, flounders, and herrings with catches for 2000 at or near all time highs.  Only the cods show a moderate decline from 10.7 million tonns in 1996 to 8.7 million tonns in 2000.

A global decline of 90% in populations would have to result in significantly reduced catches. The statistics do clearly show a leveling off over the past decade and a strong case can be made for reduction in pressure on many stocks but such extraordinary claims are unhelpful. They are sure to be strongly rejected by the fishing industry, are contrary to actual catch results and almost certain to be disputed and ultimately discredited.

The readiness with which various prominent individuals and groups concerned with marine conservation have adopted this report is unfortunate in that false or exaggerated claims only make easy fodder for denial and disproof.

For FAO statistics see:

and the Good News is -
Golden Dolphin will soon be releasing a Biennial DVD edition containing the entire first 12 issues on a single, DVD data disk.   It contains nearly 6 hours of video, around 3000 still images and hundreds of pages of text comprising some 150 feature stories. It will be sold through distributors, dive shops and various other retail outlets so will hopefully reach a significant global audience. A RRP of U.S.$19.95 should make it the best buy in dive publishing.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of new channels of media but the time, money, and interest we have to expend on them remains much the same as it always was. It's a zero sum game with every new medium or channel only dividing the pie into smaller and smaller pieces with audience attention becoming an ever scarcer commodity. Increasingly we are overwhelmed with a confusion of generally overpriced choices and often end up not buying anything.

The Golden Dolphin DVD is an attempt to offer a compelling combination of quality, quantity and value.  It is also an experiment in a new model of content distribution for creators in that in that the standard contributors share for the regular CD issue will apply to the DVD as well.

An innovative new advertising section will include interesting advertorial content and direct web links to advertisers own websites at prices they can afford. For more info on this see: . Contributors share will also apply to advertising revenue.

If you are an underwater photographer with work you would like to see in the next DVD edition now is good time to get in touch.

 Walter Starck