As mentioned before in my previous entry, the depleting stock of the oceans marine life is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer. Its been estimated that around 85% of the worlds fisheries have reached their biological limits and many species such as the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna are severely threatened and at the point of collapse. There are three reasons as to why overfishing is still such a huge issue;
- Lack of Marine Protected Areas
- Lack of management
- Illegal fishing
Only 1.6% of the worlds oceans have been declared as ‘Marine protected areas’ meaning that the other 98.4% of our oceans are left to be exploited by commercial fishing. MPA’s work in different ways and have different techniques in order to protect certain areas, for example ‘Zonal management’ (space control regarding certain activities), ‘Quotas’ (setting limits on the amount of stock taken) and ‘Temporal control’ (time management, e.g closed fishing seasons). Marine protected areas are extremely important as they protect habitats like coral reefs and prevent further destruction. They allow areas with low to recover in order to help support a more sustainable and healthy marine life. Furthermore, lack of management surrounding overfishing needs to be improved and implemented throughout our oceans. Rules needs to be applied in order to regain a sustainable fishery, for example; safe catch limits, decrease in unintentional catches, protection of habitats and monitoring/enforcement. With the current rules and regulations put into place, the poor management is leading a depleting stock of fisheries and therefore the rules mentioned above need to be employed with full force in order to prevent further damage. It is also estimated that around 20% of the worlds catch is from illegal fishing which is a large contributor to the exploitation of our oceans. However with rules such as those mentioned above, the acts of illegal fishing should be wiped out.
These causes of overfishing do not go without their impacts. There are four severe impacts that overfishing is having not only on our oceans but also us a humans, for example;
- Economic loss – this is the impact that overfishing has on communities who solely rely on the revenue made from selling their stock in order to survive but also to eat as well. However, the problem of certain species being a reliable food source is a global issue that is being impacted tremendously by overfishing.
- Marine life imbalance – with the increase of certain predators such as tuna or sharks being targeted, it allows the increase in population of smaller marine life, for example algae which destroys the health of the coral reef.
- Decreased food security for coastal communities (as mentioned above)
- Unintended catches – large machinery used during commercial fishing also captures species such as sharks and turtles, who’s population have also been impacted hugely through overfishing.
However, there are also some solutions to the problem that with continuous effort can help our oceans. Here are some of the following;
- Working with the Government- certain organisations, like WWF, have begun working with the government in order to put management schemes in place to help improve these impacts, therefore with specific protocols or regulations (mentioned previously) put into place we can help or manage overfishing.
- Helping developing countries – one of the biggest impacts of overfishing was the effect it has on coastal communities and therefore it is important to put in place specific procedures so these communities do not solely rely on the income of fish stocks.
- The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have begun working on creating standards to help commercial fisheries maintain production without harming the environment.
- Educating retailers – this is a solution that many organisations are trying to be implement more frequently whereby retailers purchase stocks from more sustainable areas rather than continuing to exploit areas that are already collapsing.
- More protected marine areas
- Labels for consumers – encouraging buyers to eat other fish that is not in significant danger
- Responsible farming – this is finding a way to provide food without putting stress on the environment on a global scale.
Working alongside the government and employing some of these solutions within our oceans shall hopefully see the impacts overfishing rapidly decline and our oceans to thrive once more. Just remember to keep spreading the word and stay aware!
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