What I would present is the illustrated version of the same thing.
The first thing I would like to show is that the world catch is declining. It's declining, as you see in my first graph—you can also see it in French—because we fish too much. It is especially declining when you take account of everything that is not in official statistics.
The reported catch is the catch officially reported by agencies such as the DFO to the FAO. The actual catch of the world is higher, because lots of things are not counted by official agencies: the discarded fish, the fish taken by aboriginal communities—for example, in Canada that is not reported to the FAO—and lots of illegal catch that is made, which an agency such as FAO or DFO could not acknowledge exists. As a university, we can take account of it. The real catch of the world is much higher—about 50% higher—and is declining.
Why is it declining? It's because we fish too much. There are different ways you can say that, but the cumulative power of engines in the world's fleet is increasing at a rate that we can qualify as crazy. You can see it. It's particularly the case in Asia; subsidized fleets are increasing very rapidly.
The result of this is that the footprint of fisheries, which was already substantial in the fifties when the effects of the war were beginning to be repaired, has enormously increased. Compare the slide showing what happened in the fifties with the slide showing what happens now. The footprint of fisheries is immense. It's worldwide.
Why? What has happened? What has happened is that fisheries have expanded. Fisheries always expand; they cannot stay in place. Why can't they stay in place? It's because they are too powerful for the natural productivity of the resource. They have to expand because they essentially deplete what they have.
Canada's fleet offers a good example of this. I was a student in Germany at the time and came with a German research vessel, a converted factory vessel that was fishing between 500 metres and one kilometre deep. Canada had 500 years to maintain a successful fishery to about a 100-metre depth when fishing for fish cod in the Atlantic provinces. The trawlers that I was in and that were operating in the seventies went to one and a half kilometres of depth to dig the fish out.
The depth was a refuge; it was a marine protected area at the time. The fish were protected by distance, they were protected by the cold, they were protected by ice. The fish were protected from us by nature itself. Progress in fisheries is, then, overcoming these protections.
The fisheries expanded; that is, the percentage of the natural production of the ocean that is used by fisheries. If you use a 30%, 20%, or 10% threshold, you can see that it expanded in the seventies by about one million kilometres per year. That's about half the expanse of the Amazon every year. Fisheries expand.
Marine protected areas are therefore not really something foreign that comes from outer space, from aliens. This is the flip side of this expansion. We expand areas that before had protected the fish because we couldn't get at them. They now become available, and we have to re-establish marine protected areas.
The concept of marine protected areas had already been discovered about a hundred years ago, but these areas grew very slowly because we have difficulty conceiving of fish as wildlife that needs protection. We view the ocean essentially as a larder, a place where we just get food.
The idea grew very slowly, and these areas' growth became a bit more rapid, by 5% per year. But at 5% per year, given the low baseline, we were not going to reach any of the goals that Dan Laffoley mentioned. We were in a situation like the one shown in my brief.
In the North Atlantic, you can see in green the areas that were protected. Yes, it's a joke. There is nothing that can be seen with the pixel size we used. There are marine protected areas here and there, including in Canada, but they're minuscule. The ocean was essentially not protected anymore.
This has changed since President Bush, of all people, created a large marine protected area around the northwestern Hawaiian island, and this was the first big marine reserve. It was made bigger by President Obama, and heads of state being who they are said, “I want one, too.”
Then New Zealand came into the picture. France came into the picture, then Russia, and there is now a trend towards large marine protected areas. However, they are only within the exclusive economic zone of countries. Because they are inside the EZ of countries and because there is no legal framework for creating marine reserves in the open ocean—no country has the right to do so in the area beyond their EZ—this creation of marine reserves is essentially limited.
There will be a point at which the uninhabited islands are all marine reserves, and then we will have protected a good part of the Pacific but none of the Atlantic, none of the fishing grounds in the northern hemisphere that need to be protected.
You can see that lots of these marine protected areas, the dark blue things, the big ones, are being created in the southern hemisphere.
In Canada, though Dan Laffoley said that we are 33rd in the world, we actually don't have any significant marine reserves that we can brag about. Canada has been a laggard. I have been in Canada for 22 years and have heard talk and more talk. Marine reserves are not being created in Canada, and we are becoming a laggard compared with other countries.
They are very cheap to make, actually, the big ones. However, you get the same push-back from people who don't want them, either small or big ones, so you might as well create a big one. It's much cheaper. We have shown that in our paper.
The take-home message is that marine reserves effectively protect marine biodiversity for the simple reason that these reserves are the equivalent of a world in which we don't fish, and a world in which we don't fish is a world that has created the diversity that we see. That's the flip side of it.
At present, at the rate that Canada is creating marine reserves right now, it will not meet its commitment. It will not meet the 10% commitment by 2020.
The time has come to go from talk to some action.