The Impact of Overfishing on Aquatic Life

Living the eco-friendly life has taken some more clued-in avenues lately. As we become more aware of our impact on the planet, it’s interesting to think of the lesser-known ways we can help preserve the earth we call home.

While there’s a lot of talk about plastic waste, illegal dumping and climate change harming our oceans and waterways, there’s also a highly under-discussed issue that threatens our aquatic ecosystems: Overfishing and bycatch.

It’s believed that the world's entire stock of seafood could be gone by the year 2048, and yet we hear so little about this alarming statistic.

Could it be a mere exaggeration? The only way to know for sure is to educate yourself and the people in your life on the potential hazards of overfishing, and to choose sustainable options when you shop. 

Learn more about the impact of overfishing and what you can do about it below:


WHAT IS OVERFISHING? 

In retrospect, overfishing is a natural reaction to a world calling out. We’re eating more fish than we were 50 years ago, so the fishing industry needs to respond by fishing more. The problem is, we’re fishing our oceans faster than they can replenish themselves. 

As many as 80% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited or depleted. 90% of large predatory fish stocks such as sharks and tuna are completely gone.

To make matters worse, overfishing is the leading cause of bycatch. Bycatch is when another fish or sea animal is caught in a net as a result of negligent fishing practices. Large fishing boats use giant trawling nets and drag them across the water sweeping up everything in their path. Dolphins, sharks, and seals are caught in these nets and as many as 300,000 of them die each year because of this. 

The Leading Cause of Overfishing

The number one cause of overfishing is massive government subsidies. The governments of the world give out more than $35 billion per year to support the commercial fishing industry. What this does is fund large fishing operations, while stepping on the toes of the small oceanside communities that rely on fishing to make their humble living.

Around 800 million people worldwide rely on fishing as their primary source of income. Yet these small-scale purveyors are not the beneficiaries of these government funds; instead, it’s going to companies with mega ships who can negligently fish wherever they want, whenever they want because the loose regulations in place are difficult to enforce anyway. 

How to Manage and Prevent Overfishing

Dealing with the issue of overfishing starts with awareness. Not enough news networks and media outlets are covering the topic, so spreading the word and taking action where we can is critically important to the health of our oceans and the marine life that call it home.

On a large scale, the world needs to stop fueling illegal fishing with government subsidies and embrace the technology put in place to prevent it.

On a smaller scale we can all contribute to, the answer lies in purchasing any fish you eat wisely. Source sustainably farmed and caught seafood from local vendors where possible, and encourage those you know to do the same.

Alternatively, you could try your hand at fishing in your local area, boycotting the big fisheries entirely when you bring home your own catch!   

Our oceans sustain all life, and preserving them lies in our hands. While it may only seem like a small step in the right direction when we play our part in conservation, the impact can be huge if widely adopted by the masses.

Here at Greens Steel, we’re all about making eco-friendly choices. We’re so glad you’ve joined our community living consciously!

Coty | Greens Steel Wellness Contributor 
Pennsylvania, USA

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