Overfishing Oceans Leads to 'Rise of Slime'

Depleted stocks throw ecosystems out of whack
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2008 6:00 AM CDT
Scientists say the burst of growth in primitive life forms like algae is harming global coral reefs.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Overfishing results in more than just the depletion of one species—it can mean the degradation of entire ecosystems. As the populations of large, predatory fish such as sharks and tuna decline, their prey flourishes, with sometimes-devastating results. The Christian Science Monitor looks at the problem of the world's increasingly depleted oceans.

A combination of overfishing and pollution has led to a worldwide boom in primitive ocean life such as algae and jellyfish—something one professor calls "the rise of slime.” And in the eastern US, a decimated shark population has allowed lesser predators to thrive, setting off a chain reaction that has hit the scallop industry hard. To deal with such issues, scientists advocate a holistic approach—focus on improving the diversity of the entire ecosystem rather than the health of a few commercial species.