Fish are Friends, not Food

You can't just keep swimming from this problem forever

Our Ocean Wonderland - Vaccuship and aerial trawler

Why are fish important?

The ocean is vast and covers 71% of the Earth's surface. Yet about 95% of the mysteries of underwater remain unknown to humans. With only 5% properly discovered, you might think that we have enough fish to supply us with food. However, this truth is horribly misconceived. We are depleting the aquatic life faster than the animals can reproduce and this is due to overfishing. It is not a limitless supply of food as everyone thinks it is because unsustainable fishing practices are causing fish stocks to collapse. Fishers do not control the amount of fish they capture as there are no or few property laws banning fishing. This open access to waters encourages pirate fishing. This means fish are caught illegally than disguised and sold to the world wide market to countries that include the United States, Europe, and Japan. Since it is impossible to trace back the source of origin of one fish, people don't bother questioning where it's from and support this illegal mean of aquatic capture. In the world the amount of water that is considered to be MPA (Marine Protected Area) is only 1.6%. The remaining 98.4% is accountable to illegal fishing and the destruction of fishing practices. Humans are on top of the food chain so it is our duty to protect those below us. If the fish die out, it won't be long until we feel the same effects.


  • Fish are important to keep organisms lower in the food chain in balance such as plankton and saldines
  • Part of the ecosystem
  • Fish are the main food source for arctic mammals which would also become endangered if there were no more fish
  • Fish waste fertilizes aquatic plants and when they decompose it provides nutrients back to underwater flora
  • Humans rely heavily on fish for protein supplements


Impacts


  • Coastal communities are losing an important source of income $10-23,5 billion
  • As more and more fish are taken away from the ocean, more oxygen is provided for harmful algae to grow which threatens the coral reefs
  • Target fishing kills off primary predators that are higher in the food chain such as tuna, billfish, and sharks
  • Population unbalance because animals lower in the food chain will increase in size
  • Threatens long term food security in developing countries who depend on fishing for an income
  • 90% of large predatory fish (cod and tuna) have been captured
  • From bycatch many other marine mammals and seabirds are accidentally caught and killed in fishing gear
  • Destructive fishing methods can end up destroying entire ecosystems in the process of extracting large amounts of fish
  • Larger animals suffer food shortages
  • People who catch fish in legal means are resorting to catching smaller fish that do not sell as well in markets



Sierra Leone Overfishing (www.sierraeye.net)

Towards a more sustainable Future

Being the single most biggest threat to marine ecosystems, it is very important that we ensure this natural resource is protected by focusing on sustainable practices when catching fish. This way we will be able to sustain the livelihoods of coastal communities and ensure food security. By reforming the management of fisheries and implementing policies, it is possible to stop overfishing. Contact your local representative and government to limit fishing subsidies.


More No-take zones should be created world wide. These are areas where depleted fish populations are able to recover and reproduce without hindrance. China would benefit in these zones as they overfish more than any other country. Stressed coral will also be able to recover from climate change impacts such as bleaching in no-take zones.


Fishermen need to become better stewards of managing fish in order to reduce the amount of fish they catch. By giving rights and setting boundaries, fisherman will be motivated to sustain marine life. We need to modify methods of bycatch or completely ban it so other mammals do not get involved in this issue. Monitoring and facilitating fish trade will ensure that pirate fishing is stopped once and for all. This can be done by verifying vessels that go out to open waters to fish and documenting catch.


Most importantly, it is up to us, the consumers to ensure we are not supporting or buying fish that have been caught in unsustainable conditions. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has labelled 15000 seafood products to ensure that the fish you eat are responsiblly managed at fisheries and farms. These sustainable fish also taste better than fish that might become sick from being caught in threshers or other harmful equipment. By lowering the global demand and choosing sustainably produced seafood, we are lowering the damage on marine ecosystems. When we protect the fish, we improve food security for people that rely on the ocean and preserve the aquatic resource for future generations.