By removing too many of the sea’s keystone predators, we weaken an entire tier at the top of the food chain. This may have dire biological consequences throughout the ecosystem, far beyond the social, economic and moral costs of depleted ocean fisheries.
The world’s large open-ocean predators – the tunas, swordfish, billfish and sharks – are the lions, tigers and wolves of the sea, wild creatures as awe-inspiring as any animals on earth. They sit at the top of the ocean food chain, where they play the critical role of maintaining balance and diversity.
Unfortunately, although these big fish have few natural predators, they are among the most threatened fish in the sea. The reasons these fish are threatened are three-fold: exploitation at rates faster than the fish can reproduce; indiscriminate and wasteful fishing practices; and ineffective management, at the national and international levels.
Wild Oceans has a long record of accomplishments working to protect and restore marlin and sailfish, swordfish, bluefin and other tunas, and sharks. Our activities cover a broad range of issues critical to the future of large ocean fish, among them: implementing recovery plans for all overfished species, featuring rebuilding targets and timetables; reducing commercial bycatch of non-target fish and other wildlife by promoting changes to more selective, sustainable fishing gears (best fishing practices); and promoting catch-and-release fishing among sport anglers and the use of circle hooks to enhance survival.
We achieved a major victory in 2012 with passage of The Billfish Conservation Act, which now prohibits the sale of all species of billfish (swordfish are not included) in the U.S., with an exception for traditional fisheries within Hawaii and the Pacific islands. The law ends U.S. importation of foreign-caught billfish, an estimated 30,000 Pacific marlin and other billfish each year.
By promoting changes in government policy, innovative research, public education, and legal action when necessary, Wild Oceans is making significant progress toward these objectives.