A healthy ocean is essential to all life on this planet. To keep the planet healthy, we depend on biodiversity and the different type of life that exists. Healthy oceans are important for marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies. According to UNEP (2006), the precise definition of ocean health varies across locations and stakeholders, but it often consists of a diverse set of management goals related to how people use and value the marine environment. They support the livelihoods of one tenth of people on the planet. The most important activity for human’s livelihood is fishing and oceans also provide the main source of protein for more than a billion. According to the Economist, the consumption of fish has increased greatly in the world, approximately 20 kilos per person annually. However, all recent gains were at the expense of farmed fish. Aquaculture has grown in the world in the last decades, especially in China.


对地球上的所有生命而言,海洋的生态健康是至关重要的。为了保持地球的健康,我们依赖于生物多样性和存在着的不同类型的生命。健康的海洋对海洋生态系统、生活和经济都很重要。根据联合国环境规划署(UNEP)于2006年发表的报告,海洋健康的精确定义在不同的地点和利益相关者之间存在差异,但它通常包含一系列与人们如何使用和重视海洋环境有关的各种管理目标。他们支持着地球上十分之一的人的生计 。人类生活中最重要的活动是渔业,海洋也为超过10亿人提供了蛋白质的主要来源。据《经济学人》报道,世界上鱼类的消费量已经大大增加,每年人均约20公斤。然而,最近所有的收益都是以养殖鱼类为代价的。在过去的几十年里,水产养殖已经在世界范围内发展,中国的发展尤为显著 


Maybe the most important reason to protect the oceans is to preserve the biodiversity of our planet but also because oceans are a limitless source of food, transportation, recreation, and most essential, they regulate the global climate by serving as an enormous thermal mass for heat storage and as a reservoir for CO2. Oceans were also a great opportunity to develop new drugs to treat human diseases. For example, the chemical Bergmann identified a type of sponge, scientific name spongothymidine, that leaded to the development of a whole class of drugs that treat cancer and viral diseases and it is still in use today. It is the case of Zidovudine (AZT) that fights the AIDS virus and HIV.





What is happening with the oceans? 海洋中正发生着什么?


Overfishing is one of the biggest threats to our planet. Ecologists and Economist through various studies had identified that we could run out of fish by 2048. In 2006, a PhD from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Boris Worm already predicted this alarming result. According to Worm, the ocean will not have fish – which, if it occurs, would be the end of life as we know it in the planet. He keeps saying that "In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems. I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are beyond anything we suspected."


过度捕捞是地球面临的最大威胁之一。生态学家和经济学家通过各种研究发现,到2048年,地球上可能就没有鱼了 。早在2006年,来自加拿大新斯科舍省哈利法克斯市达尔豪西大学的博士鲍里斯·沃姆已经预言了这一惊人的结果。根据沃姆的说法,海洋将不会有鱼——如果它确实发生了,那将是我们在地球上所知道的生命的终结 。他一直说,“在失去物种的过程中,我们失去了整个生态系统的生产力和稳定性。使我震惊和不安的是,这些趋势超出了我们所猜疑的范围。”


Many marine ecosystems were analyzed, and a team of researchers found out that nearly 50 protected ocean areas recovered after their preservation. But the bad news was overfishing, habitat loss, climate change and pollution are driving numbers of most species into a faster decline. In many nations, overfishing is killing their marine lives. China is an example, a combination of a growing interest in high quality seafood and population growth resulted in a large depletion of its own fishing stock.  The state of world fisheries and aquaculture report from FAO mentioned that China is the main fish producer and largest exporter of fish and fishery products. However, China’s seas are dramatically overfished, and they have a large number of “trash fish”, they give that name to fish with little or non-market value. Laws are changing to support the life in the Chinese seas. Authorities proposed in 2016 quotas for fishing and monitoring the oceans to protect the marine ecosystem. And There is a chance for China as the new leadership, Xi Jinping, has an agenda “in favor of the environment” which aims to build a “moderately prosperous society based on environmental carrying capacity of resources, the laws of nature, and sustainable development.


一个研究小组在分析了许多海洋生态系统后发现,近50个受保护的海洋区域在保护后恢复。但坏消息是过度捕捞、栖息地丧失、气候变化和污染导致大多数物种的数量急剧下降 。在许多国家,过度捕捞正致使他们的海洋生物灭亡。中国就是一个例子,由于人们对高质量的海鲜的兴趣和人口的日益增长,导致其自身的渔业资源消耗殆尽。粮农组织的世界渔业和水产养殖报告指出,中国是鱼类和渔业产品的主要生产国和最大出口国。然而,中国的海洋被过度捕捞,他们中有大量几乎没有市场价值的“垃圾鱼” 。法律正逐步完善以支持中国海域的生活。当局在2016年提议设置捕捞配额并监测海洋以保护海洋生态系统 。中国新一届领导人习近平主席提出了“有利于环境”的议程,旨在建立“以环境承载力、自然规律和可持续发展为基础的小康社会”,这对于中国而言也是一个机遇。


What can be done? 我们应该怎么做?


Many experts propose a restructuring of the fishing industry because strengthening and expanding protected marine reserves would be a good way to conserving species. Currently, less than 1% of the ocean is designated as marine protected areas[10]. The government's support is crucial to patrol and protect them. Researches mentioned that if we could designate 4% of the world’s oceans as conservation zones could protect 108 species (84%) of the world’s marine mammals[11].


Why we don’t have an urgent solution? Many fields of expertise point out the problem. For example, economists argue that overfishing is a result of a political failure of an open access property such as the marine environment. Others point to technological aspect and a lack of knowledge of the majority on the importance of marine life.


许多专家建议对捕鱼业进行重组,因为加强和扩大受保护的海洋保护区将是保护物种的妙计。目前,只有不到1%的海洋被指定为海洋保护区 。政府的支持对巡逻和保护他们至关重要。研究表明,如果我们能将世界上4%的海洋划为保护区,就可以保护世界上108种(84%)海洋哺乳动物 。




If the governments, civil society and citizens want to find some solution for the fishless ocean problem, they should understand many different aspects from this issue such as the emergent outcome of the interaction between human needs and what nature has to offer.


There is no magic formula to solve the problem. But we can regulate the economic motives and avoid more serious losses of resources and productivity in the extensive fishing. In addition, to minimize the political interference, we can vote responsibly and eat sustainable seafood already help this cause. We should change our minds to think about oceans as a system to be wisely managed and not overexploited.






Article: Islene Pinheiro Facanha

Translation: Wei Yichen


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[1] UNEP. 2006. Marine and coastal ecosystems and human well-being: a synthesis report based on

the findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.

[2] Getting serious about overfishing : https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21722629-oceans-face-dire-threats-better-regulated-fisheries-would-help-getting-serious-about

[3] Role of Marine Natural Products in the Genesis of Antiviral Agents: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883660/

[4]A New Warning Says We Could Run Out of Fish by 2048. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/grub-street/a-new-warning-says-we-cou_b_13615338.html

[5] The Oceans Could Be Dead by the Year 2048: http://www.theinertia.com/environment/the-oceans-could-be-dead-by-the-year-2048/

[6] Scientists warn of marine ecosystem collapse : http://cordis.europa.eu/news/rcn/26600_en.html

[7] Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/salt-water-fish-extinction-seen-by-2048/

[8] The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5555e.pdf

[9] China vows to reduce fishing catch to protect ecosystems :http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1000683.shtml

[10] Department of commerce (1999).Turning to the sea : America's ocean future. DOC and US Navy, Washington D.C.

[11] Global distribution and conservation of marine mammals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3158205/



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