On April 14, 2016, we had the chance to meet face-to-face with Captain and Canadian environmental activist Paul Watson. He came to Bourges to present us Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which he founded in 1977 and dedicated to the protection of marine creatures.
For 2 hours, we listened to his stories of adventures, the fights they and he and his militants are fighting against industry giants and states illegal fishing of marine species.
We need to bring whale and fish populations back to pre-exploitation levels. Emphasis should be placed on revitalizing biodiversity in the oceans.
If the Ocean Dies, We All Die ! But why ?!
Billions of people depend on the ocean for food, and I’m not talking about restaurants, sushi bars
and fish markets in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo or Sydney. I am talking about the extremely poor people whose lives depend exclusively on catching fish.
The ocean is the life support system for the planet, providing 50% of the oxygen we breathe and climate regulation. The ocean is also the pump that allows us to have fresh water. It is the driving force, with the sun, of the global circulation system that transports water from land to sea to atmosphere and back to earth again.
Sea Shepherd at Bourges with Paul Watson in person!
Plankton is part of the organisms living in fresh, brackish and saline waters, mostly suspended and apparently passive. Plankton populations have been reduced by 40% since 1950, recently it has become a commercial exploitation by Norwegian and Japanese fishing companies to extract millions of tons of plankton for conversion to a high-protein feed.
Each year, 65 billion animals are slaughtered to feed humans and about 40% of all fish caught are processed into fish meal to feed pigs, chickens, domestic salmon, fur-bearing animals and cats. With fish populations declining, companies are looking to replace fish meal with a plankton paste.
Are fish meals for domestic animals worth the trouble of robbing the planet of our oxygen supplies?
Where does the oxygen come from ? Some of this oxygen is produced by algae and marine herbs, but the vast majority of oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, unicellular microscopic organisms that have the ability to photosynthesize. These tiny creatures live in the superficial layer of the ocean (and in lakes and rivers) and form the very basis of the aquatic food chain.
During photosynthesis, phytoplankton removes carbon dioxide from seawater and releases oxygen. Carbon then becomes part of their body.
Oxygen production and sequestration of carbon dioxide are the major contributions of plankton, as well as the formation of the foundation for the entire oceanic food chain.
Illegal fishing industries steal the seas from oxygen production for short-term private benefits.
This is one of the things that was not taken into account at the Conference on Climate Change in Paris. (COP 21) Most oceans are in international zones, not belonging to any state.
Other factors that reduce plankton include acidification from excessive carbon dioxide, pollution, habitat destruction, and drastic decrease in populations of whales and cetaceans.
Cetaceans are the main species that fertilize phytoplankton. For example, a blue whale defects three tons of nitrogen per day, rich iron deposits, providing phytoplankton nutrients. In return, the phytoplankton fed the zooplankton, which itself fed the fish and ultimately everything that lives in the seas and oceans.
In order to restore phytoplankton populations, we need to restore cetacean populations. We need to abolish the industrialized exploitation of biodiversity in the ocean. We also need to have governments halting all subsidies for commercial fishing.
The reality is that there simply is not enough fish in the sea to continue feeding a constantly expanding human population. It is a simple concept to understand – more humans eat fish, directly or indirectly (ie fish meal), the more they contribute to the depletion of fish.
There must be a global moratorium on fisheries in all industrialized countries. There must be a global cessation of whale killing. We need to bring whale and fish populations back to pre-exploitation levels. Emphasis should be placed on the revitalization of biodiversity in the oceans, in order to combat climate change and the decrease in phytoplankton production to increase the production of oxygen.
Selon Paul Watson, « The solutions to climate change are simple. »
- Put an end to the illegal fish and fish trade industry that produces more greenhouse gas emissions each year than the transportation industry.
- A worldwide moratorium on all industrial fishing operations.
- The end of killing whales, for whatever reason.
The collapse of the ocean, biodiversity and the catastrophic collapse of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations in the oceans will cause the collapse of civilization, and most likely the extinction of the human species.
It was exactly 2 years ago, on April 14, 2014, that I was emerging from the water of the Mekong river after having swim there for 6 months. The first descent of the Sacred River in hydrospeed under the aegis of Expedition Terre Inconnue. From the Tibetan Highlands to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and expedition of 4,400 km and crossing 6 countries.
Like one of Sea Shepherd’s core values, the expedition was focused on preserving this vital source to life on Earth: WATER.
Like Paul Watson, I noticed a pollution of this resource by plastic, especially in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where some irrigation canals are covered with several tens of centimeters of household waste.
Plastic has, in a few years, invaded our consumer societies. It is a recent product of which we do not yet know the cycle of degradation.
At the end of his presentation, we were able to ask him some questions, in particular on the pollution of the oceans by plastics, and the actions carried out by Sea Shepherd. We discussed the link between ocean and river pollution and the need to address the problem at the source.
The shared advice, “we must make the plastic disappear at its source.”
The association Expedition Terre Inconnue plans to clean up part of the Mekong river, particularly in Vietnam with its Plastic to Oil project.