Updated: Apr 23
Neil Hwang (Fairmont Private Schools)
“The estimate is that by the middle of the 21st century, if we keep taking wild fish at the level that we are today, there will be no commercial fishing, because there won’t be enough fish to catch.” - Sylvia Earle, American Marine Biologist, Diver, Oceanographer.
Over fishing affects the marine ecosystem, human health, and the marine industry. Catching species unexpectedly, like the sharks, and throwing them back into the ocean after it dies, is called “bycatching”. The earliest records of over fishing can date back to the 1800s when tremendous amounts of whales were captured for lamp oil and nets full of fish were brought in from the sea. The depletion of whales disturbed the balance of the food chain, and the loss of fish meant that predators of these fish would have less food to consume. Unfortunately, these nets would not only capture whales or fish, but they would also abduct sharks from the ocean. Every living organism in the ocean has its role, and sharks help prevent the spreading of diseases. They do this by preying on the weak, old, or sick fish from the ocean, which reduces the chance of diseases spreading in the population.
The fishing gear that are used might be very advanced but unselective. To add on, fishing gear is another big problem. Lost fishing gear continuously harms marine animals. The US has about 2 billion pounds of bycatch. That is almost the yearly catch of fish for smaller countries. Bycatching will result in much more endangered species.
Over fishing affects humans by threatening human health. The low quantity of fish would result in major loss of seafood. Seafood is a great source of omega C acids, minerals, and vitamins for people. The uncontrolled growth of other marine species would also affect the food for humans. For example, if rays prey on fish and sharks prey on rays, and then the sharks get over fished, then that is a major loss of fish to eat for humans. If sharks get over fished, the rays would become overpopulated and consume more fish, which means that the population of fish eaten by humans would decline.
Another negative aspect is job loss in the future. There are jobs such as fishermen, and other jobs related to marine. If over fishing continues, then these jobs will disappear.
Finally, the amount of nutrients in the food web will be decreased. When fish eat and digest foods, it recycles the nutrients in the ecosystem; however, if these fishes go endangered or affected by over fishing, then the amount of nutrients would go down severely.
Marine Industries should focus on restricting bycatching and limiting over fishing. They should do this so that the amount of fish wouldn’t decrease.