Commission Says Oceans Are Dying - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/05/03

Commission Says Oceans Are Dying

A study released Wednesday by the Pew Ocean commission says that the oceans bordering the United States are on a systematic decline of their marine ecosystems. The good news however is the study says with changes the decline can be reversed.

The commission called for setting aside more non fishing zones. Imposing severe limits on trawling, and strengthening land pollution laws to regulate run off.

Thursday, fish captain Jason Woodham prepares for the next two days of Billfish tournament fishing. He's out to catch the largest billfish he can.

"With these boats now with the range we've got, you've got anywhere the rigs off Louisiana and almost to Texas," Woodham said.

 It's those same waters that a recent independent commission said are over fished, polluted, infested with invasive species, dotted with dead zones and in a state of crisis. The sport fishermen in Biloxi this week said tournaments like these have little negative impact on our water's ecosystem.

"Our sports fisherman guys are very conservation minded, very few fish are killed in tournaments each year," fisherman Ron Starling said.

And new technologies, tournament fishermen said, help keep smaller fish alive.

"You know what people on other boats have because of radio contact and stuff and you have a 190 pound tuna, winning the tuna, you've got a 180 pound tuna. Why keep a 100 pound tuna?" Mobile Resident George Crenshaw said.

Besides the radio contact new high tech camera's help to see the fish before it's caught.

"Polarized filter lenses that shoot into the water, so when we have to have video confirmation in tournaments, hopefully I'll get to use it this weekend when we're fighting that big fish," Woodham said.

But it's those same big fish that the study says have almost all disappeared. In fact, 90% of the world's big fish have disappeared and environmentalist say if efforts are not taken to limit fishing, coastal development and runoff from cities the ecosystem would be on the verge of collapse.

This is the 7th annual Billfish classic. Top prize is $100,000  for the biggest blue marlin. Weigh ins are open to the public, Friday and Saturday from 4-11pm.

By Nathan Mihelich

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