In 2014, humans ate more fish raised on farms than fish caught in the wild. This huge shift slipped past largely unnoticed but it has massive implications for ocean and human health. In this edition we are delighted to present as our leading article two contrasting views of the aquaculture debate led by high-profile researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The harsh economic climate has bred a growth agenda under which the environment may be viewed by politicians as a source of problems and expense rather than a source of solutions and jobs. The decision by the UK to leave the European Union, commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’, may be a ‘golden opportunity’ for trade but when the dust settles, scientists, statutory agencies and non-governmental organizations need to be on the same page about which environmental legislation to keep, scrap or amend— and be ready with the evidence to support the government on amendments. Thanks to European Union (EU) law a whole generation has grown up with cleaner seas (and air) and gives MBA Deputy Director Matt Frost reason to hope that the ‘dirty man of Europe’ will not stir in his grave.

The UK fishing industry doesn’t like the Common Fisheries Policy but now that the UK is set to regain control over its territorial seas, how does the industry see the opportunities and threats around managing fish stocks? To find out we interviewed Jim Portus, Chief Executive Secretary of the South West Fish Producers Organisation.

The Internet and social media are making access to information so easy that we can question our experts and engage in debates—a good example can be found here on the website of The Marine Biologist, which was the forum in August for a debate between an expert on ocean acidification and a prominent journalist and climate skeptic.

As a society, we use products such as plastics and pharmaceuticals with little consideration of the environmental cost of their use. Fluoxetine is a common antidepressant that enhances feelings of wellbeing. Its use is such that it has been found in estuarine waters in the UK and US at levels that exceed EU-recommended safe limits. A University of Exeter, UK study reported that ragworms (an important food source for wading birds) exposed to fluoxetine exhibited reduced feeding and weight loss. The same marine environment that has been shown to contribute significantly to human health and wellbeing is being negatively impacted by antidepressants. As the song goes, it’s ironic.

Author

Guy Baker