Dr. Daniel Pauly Wins Cosmos Prize for Fish Conservation Studies

Today the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that Canadian marine biologist Dr. Daniel Pauly has won the Japanese Cosmos prize for his work with fisheries conservation.

Dr. Pauly, of course, deserves the recognition although it is somewhat ironic that he is receiving a prize from a nation that has done more than most to eradicate the fish from the sea, the very thing that Dr. Pauly has been most outspoken about.

What Dr. Pauly is saying and has been saying for years is that over-fishing has seriously diminished life in the ocean and this will have very serious consequences for people around the world.

Dr. Pauly has demonstrated with empirical evidence in prestigious scientific journals that fish populations are in serious decline around the world and that not only is the fishing industry wiping out entire species, but it is also destroying so much biomass that a full third of the oceans has become barren.

Dr. Pauly who has written about 30 books and published over 500 scientific papers was also honoured with the Cosmos Prize for his work establishing and promoting Fishbase, a global database of fish species; a website (www.seaaroundus.org); and a system to analyze accurate fish harvests.

Dr. Pauly has also been outspoken in his criticism of fisheries bureaucrats, including the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans whose bureaucratic incompetence has destroyed the fisheries on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada.

"I realized one has to work through the public and the conservation community," Pauly said in an interview with the Globe and Mail, adding that he has received international notice partly because he is not "one of the gloomies."

While other scientists deliver dire messages about the state of the world, he says, "I always laugh, because it's so absurd that it is funny."

"People think [others are] gloomy, and they know I am saying the same thing, but they don't put me among the gloomies."

Dr. Pauly is making the same predictions and delivering the same warnings that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been delivering for years. He adds further credibility to our concerns when he states that, "The time for action to stop overfishing is long past. The world's large fish are nearly eradicated and the oceans are suffering as result."

Dr. Pauly also told the Globe and Mail that Canadians might miss having fish on their dinner table, but people need to realize what the end result of  overfishing will be. "In the developing world, entire countries depend on fishing. If fishing is doing what we say, then essentially, there is no tomorrow for them. We can expect that in a few decades there will be no fish left."

Dr. Pauly is promoting a program of setting up protected marine sanctuaries that cover 20 to 30 percent of the ocean to dramatically curb fishing.

"It's not enough to just do the right thing. We need for the right thing to be enforced [by governments]. It's not enough that we don't do harm, but that we don't let others do them." He said.

Sea Shepherd whole heartedly endorses Dr. Daniel Pauly's concerns and agrees completely with his assessment of the situation.

"Finally," said Captain Paul Watson, "we have a scientist who is being recognized for talking straight and advocating action. Most scientists just collect data and then collect more data and then go out and collect more data, always refusing to see the truth. Any fool who has been on the water for even a few years can see that the oceans are in trouble. You don't need a PhD to see that the fish are disappearing. Governments should be listening to voices like Dr. Pauly and fire the incompetent biostiututes they employ to stamp 'scientific justification' onto the political policies that have wiped out the fish and are continuing to wipe out the fish."

For more information on overfishing, please visit our Longlining and Shark Finning webpages.