overfishing 101 | pangeaseed

what is overfishing?

overfishing takes place when fish and other marine creatures are fished more quickly than they can reproduce and sustain their populations. to put it simply, taking too many fish out of the seas before new fish can be born to replace the ones that were caught.

what is so bad about overfishing?

globally, 80 million metric tons of fish are caught annually, and if current trends continue, ocean ecosystems will be damaged irreversibly. extracting too many fish from an ecosystem robs larger predator species of their food source and reduces their chances of survival. a depletion of one can put the whole food web at risk of collapse, and can lead to an overall degradation of an ecosystem. worldwide, 90% of large predatory fish stocks are gone due to overfishing. the united nations predicts that if current trends continue, global fish stocks will be extinct by the year 2048.

some fisheries are completely depleted. the un food and agriculture organization (fao) estimates that 90% of all fish stocks are either overexploited or fully exploited. the largest of bony fish, the atlantic bluefin tuna, is heavily harvested for the global sushi market, to the point that its population has decreased by over 96% from unfished levels.

the depletion of fish stocks means a risk of losing a valuable food source that many depend upon for economical and dietary reasons. nearly two-thirds of the world’s population relies on fish for 40% of their protein. about 13,000,000 people depend on fishing for all or major part of their incomes. people dependent on fishing for their livelihoods face resource depletion, competition from industrial fishing fleets, and loss of traditional lifestyles.

what causes overfishing?

the global demand for seafood is on the rise, and global marine catch has quadrupled since the 1960s. the response to meet this increased demand has been the emergence of overly efficient industrial fishing practices. these practices are wasteful, unsustainable, and destructive, leaving harm in their tracks. the environmentally devastating thing about these fishing methods is that they destroy other species, catch more than they need, catch fish that people don’t want to eat, and are non-selective in their target fish.

the bycatch that results from industrial fishing methods is devastating. bycatch any the accidental catch outside of the targeted species. sharks, whales, dolphins, marine turtles, and seabirds are regularly caught as bycatch. 25% of all fish pulled from the sea never make it to the market and are thrown overboard, dead or soon to be dead.