Facts about Overfishing

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1. Earliest overfishing
The earliest overfishing happened in the early 1800s when humans, searching for blubber for lamp oil, killed the whale population. Some fish that we consume, including Atlantic cod and herring and California’s sardines, were also caught on the verge of extinction by the mid-1900s. Highly disruptive to the food chain, these isolated, regional depletions became global and catastrophic by the late 20th century. Today 77 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or slowly recovering.

2. Overfishing disrupts the balance of the sea’s ecological system
Commercial fleets are going deeper into the ocean and farther down the food chain for practical catches due to the collapse of extensive fish populations. This so-called “fishing down” is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system. 25 percent of all marine life resides in Coral reefs that face destruction too. The reefs grow at a rate of 0.3 cm to 10 cm a day.

3. Statistics about overfishing
63 percent of global fish inventories are now considered overfished. The collapse of just one overfished cod population resulted in the loss of 40,000 jobs. About 80 percent of all the head predatory fish have gone from coastal areas of the North Pacific and North Atlantic. Every year, the world’s fishing fleet collects roughly 30 billion dollars in government subsidies. Most of the subsidies are given to the large-scale, industrial sector of the fishing industry.

4. Depletion of predator fish
Sea creatures such as the whales, sharks, bluefin tuna, king mackerel, dolphins, and marlin are vanishing or have already vanished. The depletion of these head predator species can cause a shift in entire ocean ecosystems where smaller, plankton-feeding fish replace the commercially valuable fish. It took only 55 years to wipe out 90% of the ocean’s predators causing a disruption of the marine ecosystem.

5. Bottom trawling
Boats cast large and heavy nets that are held open by heavy doors weighing a few tons each and haul them across the ocean floor. In the process, they demolish everything else, including deep sea coral and sponges, and other sensitive seafloor life.

6. Pirate Fishing
Globally more than 20 billion dollars is lost to pirate fishing each year, a lot of which includes European or Asian vessels. The United Nations estimates that Somalia loses 300 million dollars a year to pirates while Guinea loses100 million dollars.

7. Overfishing affects Humans
Millions of humans from all over the world depend on the oceans for their staple food and earnings. This dependency automatically suggests that thousands of fish and other sea creatures are caught daily from the sea to meet the increasing demand. The lesser the fish, the lesser the protein sources, and the more people lose jobs.

8. Wastage in indiscriminate fishing
Fishing fleets have resulted to hurling bigger nets. These nets are indiscriminate. For every 1 ton of prawns caught, 3 tons of little fish are caught in the nets and thrown away. Many animals like turtles, dolphins, sharks, and seabirds, get captured on fishing lines or pulled up by fishing nets then thrown back into the sea, frequently dead or dying.

9. Pending collapse of fisheries
A 2006 study of catch data in the journal Science frightfully forecasted that if fishing rates continue rapidly, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.

10. Solution for overfishing
Scientists say many fish populations could be brought back with energetic fisheries management, better enforcement of laws governing catches, and growing use of aquaculture. In many areas, there is reason to hope but illegal fishing and unsustainable harvesting still troubles the industry.

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