When we think of the destruction of the oceans, most people think of destruction from pollution. Although chemicals and plastics have a huge impact on marine life and ecosystems, it is very important to consider another major issue that is having detrimental effects on marine systems.
Effect Of Overfishing
Destructive fishing includes practices that have an effect on marine populations irreversibly and may destroy habitats of marine organisms. In keeping with the WWF, if this continues, there’ll be no additional fish left within the oceans by 2048. Over thirty % of the world’s fisheries are overfished.
We need strict rules and laws to prevent catastrophe. Destructive fishing is mainly practiced in developing countries that do not have fishing regulations. These methods are used because they are effective in getting a large amount of fish in a short time, saving anglers time and effort.
Some dangerous methods include overfishing, blast fishing, bottom trawling, and cyanide fishing.
Overfishing is once fish are captured before they’ll reproduce, which may considerably scale back population sizes within the future. This disturbs not solely the species that are harvested but conjointly the opposite organisms that rely on them and doubtless the complete ecosystem.
– In 40 years there has been a decline in 39% in recorded marine species
– Around 93 million tons of fish were caught worldwide.
– Entire species, such as the Pacific Bluefin tuna and swordfish, are highly endangered and are at an all-time low.
– Other marine species, such as whales, dolphins, and turtles, are unintentionally killed as a result of over-fishing.
A major issue is open access to the ocean and therefore the absent rules and observance of the water. because of the redoubled range of fisheries, management has begun to slack. Current rules and regulations aren’t strict and don’t mark a limit of intake. additional importantly, there’s very little to no international fishing regulations.
Even if the nations did move to fight this issue, we tend to still face illegal fishing. to scale back the intake of fish it ought to be necessary to report intake and there should be the most limit that’s determined by biologists and not companies.
In addition, we want additional intensive ocean monitoring, which may be tough because of the quantity of fisheries and large area.
The WWF states that the populations that are mainly targeted are top predators in the ecosystem such as bluefin, salmon, tuna and sharks. This is because of the economic and social demands of the fishing industry. Decreases within the prime predator population can severely disrupt different marine populations,
A prime example of this is increases in population sizes of smaller marine animals at the bottom of the food web that are fed on by top predators. This impacts other aspects of the marine ecosystem such as increases in algal overgrowth, which can be dangerous to coral reefs. Algae, although essential for the ecosystem, can have negative effects if there is a large abundance.
Another issue that is closely related to over-fishing is by-catch. By-catch refers to non-target animals such as turtles or dolphins that are captured or killed in fishing nets. This threat causes the loss of billions of fish and other animals such as sea turtles and cetaceans.
Overfishing causes a cascade of effects in marine communities that can destroy habitats and result in the loss of biodiversity both in terms of overall abundance and species richness.
Overfishing not only destroys marine ecosystems, it also affects food security for people. Humans that live in coastal communities rely largely on fish as their major protein resource. Overfishing decreases food security by threatening the long-term food supply, especially for individuals in developing countries.
Blast fishing or dynamite fishing is a practice outlawed in most of the world, but is still used in southeast Asia. It involves using explosions to stun or kill large schools of fish for easy collection. The explosions often destroy underlying ecosystems from the strength of the blast.
Around 70,000 fishermen still use this practice. Researchers believe that destructive fishing practices like blast fishing are one of the biggest threats to coral reef ecosystems. Coral reefs are less likely to grow in places of constant disturbance. The damage done to coral reefs has an immediate negative effect on the fish population in the area.
From a single blast, it takes a coral reef about 5-10 years to recover. From constant blast fishing, it leaves coral reefs unable to grow leaving an ocean of rubble.
To reduce the use of this method, enforcement officials patrol the seas to try to catch and reprimand offenders.
Bottom trawling is a method that uses a large net that scrapes against the ocean floor to collect large groups of fish. Global catch from bottom trawling has been estimated at over 30 million tons per year, an amount larger than any other fishing method.
The trawl doors disturb the sea bed, create a cloud of muddy water which hides the oncoming trawl net and generates a noise that attracts fish. The fish begin to swim in front of the net mouth. As the trawl continues along the seabed, fish begin to tire and slip backwards into the net. Finally, the fish become exhausted and drop back, into the “cod end” and are caught.
The problem with bottom trawling is that it is un-selective in the fish it catches and severely damages marine ecosystems. Many creatures end up mistakenly caught and thrown overboard dead or dying, including endangered fish and vulnerable deep-sea corals that can live for hundreds of years or more.
Cyanide fishing is a fishing technique used to gather fish for aquaria. In this process, a cyanide solution is used to stun fish for easier collection. This method can kill neighboring fish communities and severely harm coral reefs.
Recent studies have shown that the combination of cyanide use and stress of post-capture handling results in mortality of up to 75% of the organisms within less than 48 hours of capture. With such high mortality numbers, a greater number of fish must be caught in order to supplement post-catch death.
Solutions: There have been new movements to push fisheries to practice sustainable fishing. The WWF has helped develop and set environmental standards to help set a plan for sustainable fisheries. Approximately 15,000 seafood products hold to the standard of sustainable fishing, which is a great first step. There are other ways to help with over-fishing and one way is by influencing the market for fish. By reducing the need for fish products, less fish will be caught and hopefully, it will allow some time for re-population.