According Organization, 77 percent of the world’s fish


According to the United
Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, 77 percent of the world’s fish stocks are now either fully exploited,
over-exploited, or significantly depleted.i  Take the North
Atlantic cod in Newfoundland. They were plentiful and the communities thrived on fishing until the
unthinkable happened. Offshore fisheries took over the international waters and
the cod stocks collapsed leaving forty thousand people to lose their jobs.
Today there are so few cod left that despite moratoriums, the populations still
have not rebounded and Newfoundland is no exception. Large European vessels fishing off the coast
of Ireland will most likely cause the same collapse that happened 25 years ago
in Newfoundland.ii
 Sadly, these fishing practices do not
just happen in the Atlantic.

Each year, 1.4 billion
hooks are put into the oceans across the world.iii That
is enough line to encircle the globe more than 550 times, and the mouth of the
largest trawling net is able to stack thirteen 747 jumbo jets inside. Not to
mention trawling is the equivalent of plowing a field seven times a year. 

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Trawling isn’t the only unsustainable
fishing practice happening. Bycatch
harvest may include endangered or protected species which have virtually no
chance of survival once caught on commercial vessels and about 38.5 million tons of
bycatch is produced annually from current fishing practices.iv
The presence of sonar technology allows
vessels to hunt fish with military precision which has also aided in the obliteration
of them in our seas.

Due
to globalization, each person eats approximately twice as much fish as 50 years
ago.i So, 90% of the
stocks of large predatory fish such as sharks, tuna, marlin, and swordfish, are
already gone. And Unregulated fishing
practices in offshore vessels make up approximately 11-26 million tons of fishing worldwide.v

Overfishing leads to an estimated loss of between $6 and $36
billion in food production revenue every year, showing us that it isn’t even an
economically feasible practice.i  Overfishing also has
a massive socio-economic effect. In many African and South Asian coastal
nations, fish has been a main source of protein for approximately a billion
local people. The decline of fish stock affects the everyday life and source of
income of all those who depend on them, including some of the world’s poorest
citizens.

Some people seem to think farmed fishing is
the solution, but it takes at least 3 pounds of wild fish to make 1 pound
of farmed salmon.vi
That’s without thinking about the contamination and possible disease in a fish
farm. Waste
products are often flushed untreated into the surrounding waters where they pollute
the water supply. Coastal areas worldwide have seen habitat and ecosystem
alterations in order to accommodate fish farms. The World Resources Institute
estimates that “nearly half the land now used for shrimp ponds in Thailand was
formerly used for rice paddies, and water diversion for shrimp ponds has massively
lowered groundwater levels in coastal areas.” Although fish farming is now the fastest growing
agricultural industry worldwide, aquaculture doesn’t have room to grow because there are not enough fish for feed anymore. Essentially,
the more fish farms we have, the less wild fish we have.

With pressure, things can change. As
consumers, we have the power to bring positive change at sea, by asking where
fish is from, how its caught and whether it is endangered. We can look
for labels and guides certifying sustainability by the Marine Stewardship
Council. We can bring about marine protected areas to increase the size,
numbers, and types of fish. Safeguards can be put in place to increase
environmental laws and police illegal fishing practices. But, it is up to all
of us. Politicians must act
responsibly, consumers must change their eating habits, and the global fishing industry has
to abide by rules and reduce its fishing capacity.  The clock is
ticking, and the time to act is now.

 

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