May 06, 2009
Predator Fish Disappearing From Caribbean Coral Reefs

The growing and hungry human population is eating its way thru large fish species.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Sharks, barracuda and other large predatory fishes disappear on Caribbean coral reefs as human populations rise, endangering the region's marine food web and ultimately its reefs and fisheries, according to a sweeping study by researcher Chris Stallings of The Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.

While other scientists working in the Caribbean have observed the declines of large predators for decades, the comprehensive work by Stallings documents the ominous patterns in far more detail at a much greater geographic scale than any other research to date. His article on the study, "Fishery-Independent Data Reveal Negative Effect of Human Population Density on Caribbean Predatory Fish Communities," is published in the May 6, 2009 issue of the journal PLoS One (

"Seeing evidence of this ecological and economic travesty played out across the entire Caribbean is truly sobering," said Associate Professor John Bruno of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who served as the PLoS One academic editor for Stallings' paper.

We are eating our way thru the big fish predator species. As the human population continues to grow our impact on habitats and species will become much more severe.

Humans are eating their way down fish food chains.

"I examined 20 species of predators, including sharks, groupers, snappers, jacks, trumpetfish and barracuda, from 22 Caribbean nations," said Stallings, a postdoctoral associate at the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory. "I found that nations with more people have reefs with far fewer large fish because as the number of people increases, so does demand for seafood. Fishermen typically go after the biggest fish first, but shift to smaller species once the bigger ones become depleted. In some areas with large human populations, my study revealed that only a few small predatory fish remain."

Should we care that we are eating our way thru food chain after food chain? Should we care that additional billions of additional humans will come along to feed on food chains that are already severely depleted?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 May 06 12:02 AM  Trends Extinction

JPS said at May 6, 2009 5:12 AM:

It's the "bush meat" problem. The we-and-they distinction has been fairly simple to gloss over for the last hundred years, but pretty soon there will be some hard choices to make...

KevinM said at May 6, 2009 7:40 PM:

This is one I know about. I live in Houston, and have fished offshore out of Freeport and Galveston since the early 70s. When I was a boy, there were no length or bag limits on red snapper - the fish were plentiful and big. They started limits in the mid-late 70's, but frankly, it is a sin to fish for snapper these days. Or grouper, amberjack, shark, ling ... We're certainly not handing our children the world we were handed. I'd like to see a lot of focus shifted off of global warming and onto fisheries protection. We are in the process of passenger pigeoning all the big fish in the sea. They are being replaced by jellyfish. A big culprit is commercial shrimping. The immature fish shoal with the shrimp.

Xenophon Hendrix said at May 6, 2009 8:26 PM:

Sure, we should be concerned, but I don't see what we can do about it in territories that we (First World nations) don't control. Are you willing to invade to impose limits on population growth?

Fish farming is positive trend, and this technology, if it ever pans out, will have an increased fish supply as a by-product.

glock said at May 7, 2009 6:18 PM:

Yeah, some clown just hauled in another 1000lb hammerhead here in Fl.

What a fucking waste.

How many of those guys can be left swimmin' around ?

Why not just have your buddies take a snapshot with your' head in it's mouth to show what man you are, then let it go.

For maybe the next "man" to catch??

Conservation.... yeah, that's it ! What a concept.

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