This New York Times interview with Sylvia Earle is hands down the most informative piece I’ve seen regarding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since it’s impossible to discuss the spill without covering the gulf’s ecosystem, Earle talks about the ongoing destruction that is already occurring due to overfishing:
We’re dealing here with an already stressed system. That’s one of the problems. There’s the large-scale fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, where trawling has been such a common means of extracting wildlife. Scraping the bottom – it’s like using a bulldozer to catch songbirds. The shrimp trawls and other systems used to catch bottom-dwelling fish, the long-lining, has reduced populations of white-tipped sharks by 99 percent. They’re basically gone. And other groups of sharks are reduced by 90 percent. The groupers, the snappers, the rays – even the shrimp are depleted. How could they not be?
The end of commercial fishing is predicted long before the middle of the 21st century. So even without major disasters, even without Katrina-size storms, we are causing the inexorable decline of ocean systems.