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By 2048 all current fish, seafood species projected to collapse

Marine species loss is accelerating and threatening human well-being, according to a report published in the 3 November issue of the journal Science published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

"Species have been disappearing from ocean ecosystems and this trend has recently been accelerating," said lead author Boris Worm. "Now we begin to see some of the consequences. For example, if the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime -- by 2048." Worm is an assistant professor of marine conservation biology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.

In the paper "Impact of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services," an international team of ecologists and economists studied the role marine biodiversity plays in maintaining ecosystem services, which are those goods and functions that are essential for the growing human population.

"Worm and colleagues have provided the first comprehensive assessment of thestate of ecosystem services provided by the biodiversity of the world's oceans to humanity," said Science International Managing Editor Andrew Sugden. "The news is both bad and good.

"The strength of this paper lies in the breadth of the array of information the authors used for their analysis; they not only used new experimental data and recent data, they also delved into historical archives to assess the impact of humans on marine ecosystem overdecades and centuries," Sugden said.

"At this point," Worm said, "29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed -- that is their catch has declined by 90 percent. It is a very clear trend, and it is accelerating. We don't have to use models to understand this trend; it is based on all the available data."

Researchers also determined that the problem is much greater than losing a key source of food. Damage to the oceans impact not only fisheries, but the ocean ecosystem's overall productivi
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Contact: Natasha Pinol
npinol@aaas.org
202-326-7088
American Association for the Advancement of Science
2-Nov-2006


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