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2. Over fishing is an important contributor to the recent increase in toxic algal blooms and ocean dead zones. Jackson, in his 2001 Science article of on Historical Over fishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems finds that:
There are three important corollaries to the primacy of overfishing... The first is that pollution, eutrophication, physical destruction of habitats, outbreaks of disease, invasions of introduced species, and human-induced climate change all come much later than overfishing in the standard sequence of historical events... The second important corollary is that overfishing may often be a necessary precondition for eutrophication, outbreaks of disease, or species introductions to occur... The third important corollary is that changes in climate are unlikely to be the primary reason for microbial outbreaks and disease... Ecological extinction of entire trophic levels makes ecosystems more vulnerable to other natural and human disturbances such as nutrient loading and eutrophication, hypoxia, disease, storms, and climate change... This is perhaps most apparent in the rise of eutrophication, hypoxia, and the outbreak of toxic blooms and disease following the destruction of oyster reefs by mechanical harvesting of oysters.
Most recent changes to coastal marine ecosystems subsequent to overfishing involve population explosions of microbes responsible for increasing eutrophication (74-76, 81), diseases of marine species (104), toxic blooms (82, 83), and even diseases such as cholera that affect human health (104, 105). Chesapeake Bay (81) and the Baltic Sea (74) are now bacterially dominated ecosystems with a trophic structure totally different from that of a century ago. Microbial domination also has expanded to the open ocean off the mouth of the Mississippi River (106) and to the Adriatic Sea (107).
Nowhere is the lack of historical perspective more damaging to scientific understanding than for microbial outbreaks. Plans for remediation of eutrophication of estuaries are still based on the belief that eutrophication is caused only by increased nutrients without regard to overfishing of suspension feeders. Even more remarkable is the attribution of the rise in marine diseases to climate change and pollution (104) without regard to the pervasive removal of higher trophic levels and the asynchronous outbreaks of disease in different ecosystems that belie a simple climatic explanation.
From Jackson et al (2001).