Overfishing in the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean covering around 20% of Earth’s surface and providing around 14.6% of the worlds catch (The Diplomat, 2012). Fisheries within the Indian Ocean regions are one of their most valuable assets that provides for millions of people and communities. However, supplying 11.3 million tonnes of fish just in 2010 has begun to take its toll on fish stock and habitat destruction.

The Indian Ocean covers a very broad area including locations such as Egypt, Malaysia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Singapore, Tanzania and Thailand who’s animal protein relies solely on 20% of fish stock. The SIOC (Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission) have reported that within 140 species, 65% of stocks were fully exploited and 29% were over exploited in 2010 (The Diplomat, 2012). Although there are many organisations or programmes put into place (which I shall discuss further in another post) there cannot be a stop to illegal fishing or a stop on different types of fishing. As sourced from The Diplomat, it was stated that around 34% of fish stocks are unreported or illegal and there are around 700 unlicensed vessels fishing within the Somalian waters according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation). It can also be hard to monitor the different types of fishing within an area, for example; small scale fishing, recreational and commercial. Small scale fishing is the use of personal or household fishing where very little technology is used therefore only targeting specific species, however this takes it’s toll within the fishing stock when there are millions of households doing the same thing. Recreational fishing is fishing for pleasure or as a sport. This is where species such as sharks are severely impacted as they are often associated with trophy catches and then thrown back into the water extremely hurt or killed with no real reason to be caught other than for a picture. And lastly, commercial fishing. This type of fishing is where the issue of ‘overfishing’ has transformed from. Commercial fishing catches large quantities of fish for profit and to be transported around the world. The technology known as ‘Fish Aggregating Devices’ float on the surface of the water extracting large numbers of fish, however many other species such as sharks, dolphins and sea turtles are also captured and impacted even despite not being the targeted species.

It has been warned that without at least a 20% depletion of Yellow fin Tuna catches in the next 5 years their numbers could collapse. It is also known that within Cocos Keeling Island and Christmas Island near Australia, the giant clam is nearly extinct as well as sea cucumbers being severely impacted by overfishing. I feel as though it’s important to look above and beyond with this subject as many other species are feeling the true impacts of overfishing. Within my future posts I hope to explore different species affected by the issue, the true consequences of overfishing and what we can do as individuals to help our oceans.





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