Purse Seiner From Ecuador Targets Tuna, But Bycatch Remains A Problem...

Finally. Something.

This morning I woke up in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ecuador, just north of the Galapagos Islands.

It is here, in these rich fishing grounds, that I had the opportunity of photographing the activity on board a 'purse seiner' fishing boat from Ecuador. It was targeting skipjack tuna. Tons and tons of it. I would have loved to been allowed on board the vessel to shoot fishy 'blood n guts' stuff, but unfortunately the captain wasn't having any of it.

In amongst every huge net of skipjack tuna I saw hauled in, was 'bycatch'. In this case it came in the form of a slender light green coloured pelagic fish called mahi mahi, also known as dorado.

Here are a few shots showing the crew chucking the dead mahi mahi back into the sea.

What a waste.

Not content with hunting the poor northern bluefin tuna nearly to extinction in the Atlantic, the yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna in the Pacific are also just about on the brink. How long will it be until the skipjack tuna is gone too? By some predictions, not long at all. In fact 2048 is the year scientists are predicting for a wholesale collapse in global fish stocks, and empty oceans on planet earth.

The stupidity lies in the fact that as global demand for tuna soars, fishing fleets are waging a high tech war on fish that, one day, they will inevitably win. And when that day comes around, the fishermen who make their living from the industrial-scale pillaging of the oceans will be out of a job. But this is only if current unsustainable fishing practices like purse seining continue. Ever the optimist, I believe it's never too late to do something about it. I certainly recommend everyone watch the movie 'The End Of The Line', in which a bleak future without fish is laid bare. "Grandad, did you ever taste 'fish'? What was it like?"

Here's a shot of this morning's purse seiner next to the fish aggregating device, or FAD, that they were using.

Switching issues for a minute, not content with raping the world's ocean, I was dismayed to see the Ecuadorean purse seiner pumping out huge black clouds of diesel smoke as well.

Thanks, guys. Kill the sea, and kill the air while you're at it, why don't you?

On a lighter note, it was great to see a red-footed booby soaring alongside the ship on the sea breeze. What a beautiful face...

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA ECUADOR PHOTOGRAPHER

All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011