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The marine ecosystems are deteriorating at a terrifying rate. Alarmingly 85% of fish stocks are already depleted according to research figures. The attitude to the oceans seems to be - out of sight out of mind. No one is policing the illegal drift-nets, long-lines and trawlers that are ravaging our precious oceans and destroying the life within. In fact the opposite is true, governments spend billions to subsidise the commercial fishing industry. Half of all fish caught in the world is used to feed livestock, thereby making pigs and chickens the top predators of our seas.

One group, following in the wake of Sea Shepherd, is to take a stand in the Mediterranean. The Black Fish, a European based conservation organisation, will begin its blue-fin tuna campaign in the Mediterranean Sea on the 1st June – they'll then follow straight on with a campaign to against the use of illegal drift-nets. Check out their website for news. The use of illegal drift-nets alone is causing carnage amongst species such as whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, swordfish and tuna. Add long-lines and trawlers into the mix and pretty soon the Mediterranean will be as barren as the Antarctic desert.

Since the 1900’s when factory fishing entered the scene, the bluefin numbers have been reduced by a whooping 90%, and in the Mediterrean to 97%. The total ban on bluefin tuna fishing and trading  was rejected in March 2010. It is a £4.5 billion industry across the world. The largest consumers are Japan. The major suppliers for the trade are marine fisheries not fish farms. Fishing for tuna didn't begin in earnest until the 1970's, when they were sought after for sushi and steaks. At this time, a dramatic increase in fishing for tuna occurred. Overfishing, combined with a low reproduction rate, has contributed to a dramatic decline in the population. Management of tuna fishing is difficult as tuna migrate across international boundaries. Atlantic bluefin are managed internationally by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

The Mediterranean with it's slim connecting point to other oceans has amazing bio-diversity. The tides are minute, and the climate is predominantly hot and dry in the summer, with mild and wet winters. These conditions provide a suitable environment for migratory species to spend the winter and breed. The Med is a necessary hahitat for cetaceans such as the striped dolphin, common dolphin, risso's dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, habour porpoise, long finned pilot whale, cuvier's beaked whale, sperm whales and fin whales.

Drift-nets in the Med are intended to catch swordfish and tuna but research figures estimate that up to 100,000 cetaceans (dolphins and whales) and 100,000 sharks are also caught as unintended casualties of the fishing methods. Around 15% of the fish caught are the actual targets, leaving 85% of the catch unwanted, so they simply throw them dead over the edge into the deep. The most common victims are sperm whales ( in their hundreds), fin whales, (not so) common dolphins, striped dolphins (the biggest casualties of driftnet by-catch), blue sharks, thresher sharks, short fin mako sharks, basking sharks (sharkwise Moroccan trawlers are the largest culprit with an estimated by-catch of 60,000 and 90,000 per year- which makes the estimated overall figure of 100,000 sharks caught by drift-nets seem rather conservative), sea turtles (with an estimated 60,000 kills a year in the Med alone - critically endangered are the loggerhead, green, leatherback and hawksbill turtle), shark rays, skates and the devil fish are other frequent victims.

Other campaigns involved in Marine Wildlife Conservation to check out are:


Sea Shepherd (International Marine Wildlife Organisation)

Bite-Back (Shark and Marine Conservation)

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (UK based organization who rescue stranded and sick cetaceans and other marine mammals)

Archipelagos (Greek Marine Conservation Institute)

Earthrace Conservation (An organisation identifying marine conservation issues world-wide)

Stories about similar subjects...

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Despite the amazing success of the counter-mobilisation that saw this year's planned badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire cancelled in October DEFRA are already looking for new cull zones.

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Protesters hold an anti-austerity Plebs and PIIGS Banquet outside Lord Mayor's Banquet as a precursor to day of action and strikes across Europe.

Anonymous hit the streets on bonfire night.

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