Overfishing is currently a critical issue. Overfishing is the practice of catching thousands of fish in a short period to meet the expectation. Overfishing, by another definition, takes more fish than the population can replace – and it has to stop!
What can the government do to reduce overfishing? First, the government can reduce overfishing by reducing subsidies that contribute to it. It includes help for lower-cost fuel, equipment, and shipping boats, among other things. These inputs at below-market prices encourage fishing, which depletes fish supplies.
Some people do not see the real effects of overfishing on the system. This post will discuss the cause and effects and what the government can do to reduce overfishing.
The Cause Of Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when people catch too many of the same species of fish. Some fish species are going extinct due to overfishing because the government allows them to be. As a result of this human destruction, the entire system may collapse in a few years.
It is the result of global demand for fish, along with poor fishery management. The development of new and more mass fishing techniques is getting to the top reason for overfishing, too.
Many governments continue to fund fishing equipment around the world. This subsidy enables the survival of unprofitable fishing operations, eventually leading to overfishing.
The global fishing fleet has up to 250 percent of the capacity required to catch. These subsidies will be one of the top reasons for fish extinction.
This category includes nets, fishing methods, and other equipment that catch an excessive amount of fish. As a result, so many fish species become endangered.
During the same technique, it is also possible to catch sea animals other than fish. This technique is called the bycatch.
The bycatch is frequently destroyed and dumped back into the water. This method also catches very young fish, which will eventually lead to the extinction of the species as a whole.
Illegal And Unregulated Fishing Activities
Poaching, which is taking more than the allowed amount of catch, and fishing out of season are examples of illegal fishing. Illegal fishing accounts for roughly 20% of global catch and up to 50% in particular fisheries.
Many fishing industries around the world have specialized equipment and technology for catching deep-sea fish. As a result, they stay in the ocean for months and sell the fish as soon as they get back to land.
It is a waste of fish resources! They cannot sell all the fish fresh, and most buyers will not buy aged fish. So, some deep-sea fishes get thrown to waste.
Economic And Food Needs
The amount of fish that fishing businesses bring ashore varies by market availability and consumer demand. The more fish restaurants there are, the higher the fish demand will be.
The human population has multiplied many times in the last 100 years. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the demand for food and fish. These causes, with the economic ambitions of fishing enterprises, have forced some to catch more fish than the seas can replace.
Effects Of Overfishing
Imbalance In The Marine Ecosystem
Targeted capture of important predators like sharks, tuna, and billfish has a long-term negative impact on marine ecosystems. As a result, the number of smaller marine species below the food chain increases.
It impacts the rest of the ecosystem, resulting in issues such as increased algae growth. It also puts coral health in jeopardy.
Overfishing relates to bycatch, which is one of the hazards to marine life. It results in the unnecessary loss of a large fish population and other marine animals such as turtles.
Decreasing Harvests Of Targeted Fish
Because of overfishing, the population of fish that are worth eating is decreasing. Overfishing has resulted in a reduction in productive fish, resulting in a lower fish stocking.
It needs immediate attention to restore the diminishing marine population within a few years. Fish can breed and reproduce if fishing activities are restricted, and we will finally have a plentiful supply of fish.
Untargeted/Endangered Marine Species Fishing
Bycatch occurs when marine species get caught that isn’t needed or wanted. Protected or endangered species, and those with little or no economic worth, may be among the animals. If they get caught, they are usually destroyed and discarded in the ocean or on land.
Millions of individuals worldwide rely on fishing for their livelihood and nutrition. For years, the oceans gave plenty of seafood, it almost seemed endless, but that is no longer the case.
Overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices have depleted the oceans’ fish stocks in recent decades. And this has had an impact on many people’s daily lives and sources of income.
The fishing industry is on the point of collapse. There are no marketable fish left in the oceans to catch.
Fish farming necessitates the provision of feed for grown fish. For example, to raise one pound of farmed salmon, you’ll need between four and eleven pounds of prey fish.
Prey fish populations are declining at alarming and unsustainable rates due to the fast expansion of the aquaculture sector. Fish aquaculture has outstripped the availability of fishmeal as a result of this trend.
What The Government Should Do
Reduce Government Fishing Subsidies
Conservationists and politicians alike are increasingly critical of fishing subsidies. Harmful fisheries subsidies harm the ecosystem’s long-term viability (due to overcapacity). In addition, climate change, invasive species, and pollution already threaten the fish economy.
The fishing industry receives billions of dollars in annual subsidies from governments around the world to continue fishing. This government act serves as financing the over-exploitation of marine resources.
Overfishing has harmed fisheries productivity and ecosystem rearrangement during the last 100 years. And the worst thing is, it receives funds from subsidies for at least 55 years.
Worldwide Catch Shares
Catch shares are a fishing management strategy that allows fish stocks to rebuild while also safeguarding fishing communities’ livelihoods. Moreover, it prevents a precipitous collapse.
The government can authorize catch by using scientific data on the fish stock health and ecosystem. Each fishing firm should have catch shares to control fishing. It will indicate how much of each seafood species fishermen can catch.
Catch shares increase the seafood value, resulting in a larger, more consistent reward while also safeguarding the environment. In addition, rather than limiting the length of a fishing season, catch shares encourage communication and stewardship.
Limiting the length forces fishermen to make a hasty decision to make a living in a short amount of time. It sometimes leaves them no other choice but to use trawling or other unsustainable fishing practices.
Protection Through Policy
It’s critical to acknowledge the existence of a problem and then gather data over time to measure improvement. They can also utilize the information to make policy decisions to safeguard areas at risk of overfishing. For example, regulations can limit the length of fishing seasons or prohibit specific types of fishing.
Trawling involves dragging giant nets across the ocean. It scoops up every animal and habitat in its path. It leads to massive wasteful bycatch — dead fish returned to the sea because they weren’t the target fish.
The world can’t afford to throw away that much marine life. There are numerous programs aimed at reducing bycatch and small areas globally where bottom trawling is prohibited. However, these measures are insufficient. Trawling should no longer be a thing.
Faced with low fish supplies on the verge of extinction, the Chinese government banned trawling in Hong Kong’s waters in 2012. They accomplished this by purchasing trawling-capable fishing vessels. They also assist deckhands who would be affected by the reduced amount of fish harvested.
Governments help to support sustainable fish populations in the future and recover at-risk fish stocks by regulating certain practices. However, this will necessitate global cooperation from governments to reduce overfishing through policy.
Create More Marine Protected Areas
Currently, marine parks preserve less than 2% of the world’s seas. In addition, less than 1% of the oceans have protection from overfishing. There should be more no-catch zones to secure future generations. This law will allow fish populations and ecosystems to recover and replenish themselves.
The Marine Conservation Institute hopes to tenfold that number with 10% of the oceans designated as Marine Protected Areas. To maintain increasing healthy fish stocks in the future, people would like to see 20% ocean preservation.
What You Can Do To Reduce Overfishing
Citizens can directly impact overfishing by their purchasing decisions. Shoppers may help reduce overfishing by selecting local fish approved by the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainable seafood stamp of approval.
The essential effort that anyone can make is to eat sustainable seafood. There are phone applications and pocket manuals available that provide information about sustainable seafood.
By inquiring about the sustainability of a restaurant’s fish, a responsible selection is possible. As a result, restaurants may look into sustainable seafood options.
Overfishing puts ocean ecosystems in jeopardy, as well as the billions of people who rely on seafood as a protein supply. Our fisheries are near to collapse, and we’re on the edge of a food crisis.
So, the government must do something about this by reducing subsidies. And since overfishing is a global problem, individuals must also work hand-in-hand with the government.