Why is overfishing a problem?
Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back over many tens of thousands of years, human existence and culture around the world are tied into our fishing history.
The oceans offer us a renewable and irreplaceable source of food and nutrition on which some communities rely for survival.
However over the last century, commercial fishing methods have increased our impact on the marine environment and species so dramatically that we are now in danger of causing marine ecosystems to collapse completely.
To put it simply, there are no longer plenty more fish in the sea.
What are the issues?
Some fishing methods such as bottom trawling, dredging and cyanide fishing destroy vital marine habitats like coral reefs and sea grass beds.
Others like long-lining and purse-seine fishing are indiscriminate, killing millions of unwanted species along with those that are sought after.
Unwanted animals are thrown back to the sea dead as ‘bycatch’. A large portion of bycatch is made up of perfectly tasty, edible species that are just not fashionable.
These days we choose to eat only a select few species, putting huge pressure on their wild populations and exacerbating the bycatch problem.
How about fish farming?
In most cases, fish farms are not any better:
- It takes more wild-caught fish, pound for pound, to create feed for these farms, than farmed fish will be produced.
- It spreads pollution from waste products and passes diseases and parasites to wild fish populations.
- Often important marine habitats are destroyed in order to build fish farms, for example a large percentage of mangrove deforestation is due to building tropical prawn farms. Thousands of species depend on mangroves for survival, from sea turtles to tigers to manatees.
The time has come to address the way we harvest food from the oceans...
We must make sure that we take only what we need in order to safeguard marine species and environments for the future.
Why should you care?
The time has come to address the way we harvest food from the oceans; to ensure that we take only what we need and safeguard marine species and environments for the future.
Roughly one billion people, mostly in developing countries, depend on fish as their primary source of animal protein.
If we destroy fish stocks, millions of people may starve.