“There’s enough on this planet for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed.” – Mahatma Ghandi
The oceans and their fisheries are in danger, and it is up to us to ensure the prosperity of such a vital resource that we humans take for granted. According to WWF Global, the global fishing fleet is 2/3 times larger than what the oceans can sustainably support. Meaning that, commercial fishing vessels are taking 2/3 times more fish out of the ocean than can be replaced by those remaining (WWF Global News). If we continue down this egregious path, then we will not only cause the marine life to despair, but we will also be causing the human race to falter. According to a study that was published in the Journal of Science in 2006, “if fishing rates continue apace, all the worlds fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.” Furthermore, in 2003 a scientific report stated that commercial fishing had reduced the number of large ocean fish to about 10% of their pre-industrial population (National Geographic).
This issue is so crucial to understand because if we do not change these habits soon, then future generations will no longer have access to such a vital resource. The results from over-utilizing this public good will not only cause harm to humans, but will also disrupt the entire food chain. For example, if we were to continue overfishing, eventually, some population of fish, such as tuna, will deplete to number that is no longer a sustainable level and could possibly cause extinction. If this were to happen, the predators that target tuna will be harmed since there is not enough food and nutrients for them to sustain life. In turn, tunas predators will begin to die off, and eventually their predators will be effected. The negative implications of overfishing goes all the way up the food chain, and will no doubt, impact human life.
Although the statistic above are slightly alarming, there are organizations out there currently battling this issue head on. For example, Greenpeace International is a non-profit organization that combats overfishing by issuing a fleet of ships around the world to protect the global commons. According to Greenpeace International, their ships are used at the forefront of the Greenpeace campaign, often sailing to remote areas to bear witness and take action against environmental destruction (Greenpeace International). Many of these organizations try to solve this problem by targeting marine poachers through direct-action tactics, and they are even able to take necessary action when illegal activities occur.
However, these organizations cannot tackle this issue alone. We regular citizens must make a concerted effort to address the problem of unsustainable fishing by doing such things as purchasing sustainable seafood. When you enter your local supermarket, look for the MSC label (Marine Stewardship Councl), which sets a standard for sustainable fishing. Furthermore, the MSC label will yield away from overfished sources. However, that is not all we can do… we must also share news about this issue via social media. This will allow others globally to understand the rate that we are depleting the world’s oceans and fisheries. The entire focus of marine animal conservation is to ensure that the fish population is there for future generations to come.
On the contrary, we need lobbyists to interact with the United States government, allowing for collaboration between them and private, non-profit organizations. The government could then implement certain laws and regulations that could include banning commercial fishing vessels from using nets to catch fish, as it increases the chance for bycatch, or fish that are not the intended target. A law could also be created that would require fish to be packaged with MSC labels, as this could reduce fisheries from being depleted.
A long term goal that could protect the oceans fisheries is to begin educating our youth on this issue. Children need to be knowledgeable about this problem, which will allow them to understand the severity of exactly what is going on. As a result, they will educate their children, which will ensure the prosperity of our oceans and fisheries.
Action must be taken now or we will endure a problem so great that we will not be able to recover from such negative implications, as we rely on the oceans fisheries for food and nutrients.
About Us. Greenpeace International. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/
Presitine Seas: Overfishing. National Georgraphic. Retrieve from http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/explore/pristine-seas/critical-issues-overfishing/
Unsustainable Fishing. World Wide Fund Global. Retrieved from http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/problems/problems_fishing/