Since last Thursday, 100 tons of sardines, croaker, and catfish have died near Paraná, Brazil. Paraná is in the southern part of the country and has some coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The 100 ton count came from a survey conducted by the Federation of Fishermen’s Colony of Paraná, Paranaguá. It has been reported by this fishing association that 2,800 fisherman depend on fish caught in the area for their daily incomes.
At the moment it isn’t known exactly what caused such a catastrophe, but it has been speculated there is some environmental imbalance, or there has been a large chemical spill from a boat offshore. Of course, the fisherman are very concerned and have a right to be, but are there deeper issues at work that need to be investigated outside of commerce?
Bottom trawling has been documented as a fishing method there, and it is known to do severe damage to marine ecosystems. “And it’s clear that trawling causes more damage to marine ecosystems than any other kind of fishing. Now, as the threats of ocean acidification and melting sea ice are adding insult to injury, we have to reduce harm from trawling to have any hope of saving marine ecosystems,” said marine biologist Elliot Norse. (Source: Sciencedaily.com) Bottom trawling is so destructive that some nations have banned it, but others have still taken no action to protect marine habitats. In 2004, 1,000 scientists called for an end to bottom trawling.
Since it isn’t yet known what caused the die-off near Brazil, there is also a possibility it was caused by some event within the ocean itself. In 2002 a sudden loss of many fish near Kenya was due to a massive bloom of algae that contained a toxin. (Source: World Wildlife Fund) So it isn’t fair to assume the situation in Brazil could only be due to human impacts on marine habitats, but seafood sales are temporarily suspended in Paraná, due to the possibility the fish could be contaminated.
Image Credit: TANAKA Juuyoh
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