China overfishing #richpeopleproblems

OK, more like #nolongerdesperatelypoorpeopleproblems.  But anyway, just as their new found appetite for energy has resulted in polar vortex in the US, their increasing appetite for fish that is not grown in ponds of poo is resulting in decimation of the oceans.  From Scientific American:

When it comes to the future of our seas, all that matters today is China.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (whose data on global fishing admittedly is rough but is also the best available), the U.S. eats about 7.5 million tons of fishes per year. Japan, which has about a third the population, eats 7.3 million tons.

That sounds like an overwhelming quantity—until you realize that China eats a whopping 50 million tons per year. China eats more fish protein than the next 10 countries combined. The country’s appetite is so big that the FAO has to separate its statistics into “World” and “World, excluding China.” China also accounts for 35 percent of the entire world’s fish production.

…Access to fish stocks is becoming one of the signature conflict issues of the 21st century, and China seems to be sailing full-speed ahead with little regard for other nations. Last year China’s biggest fish distributor tried to take its shares public with a stock offering. In the draft summary it boasted that one of the reasons it would increase profits to shareholders was essentially that, as a Chinese company, it could ignore international rules of the high seas.

The gaff was a major embarrassment and eventually the distributor withdrew its offering. But the company was simply saying what everyone already knows: Fishing rules don’t apply to China. It’s difficult to punish poachers whose boats are owned by shell companies located in tax shelter nations and are regulated by a country that makes it a policy not to regulate wild fishing.

Chinese consumers today are worried that their lakes and waterways are not clean enough to be producing millions of tons of catfish, carp and eels every year—the water fouled by those very creatures as they grow. Increasingly, individuals who can afford it are looking to the open ocean, much the way their gluttonous neighbors across the Pacific have done for decades.This is what the situation comes down to: For centuries China has cultivated an incredible system of freshwater ponds to feed its population. But a wealthier middle class wants tuna, sea cucumber and abalone from around the world. If the Chinese middle class abandons traditional freshwater fishes, we can kiss ocean life as we know it good-bye.


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