What is it?

Overfishing is a non-sustainable use of the oceans. It is when fish stocks are used to unacceptable levels. Wildlife is taken from the sea at rates too high for fished species to replace themselves. Gathering as many fish as possible might seem like a profitable practice, but overfishing has serious consequences. The results not only affects the balance of life in the oceans, but also the social and economic well-being of the coastal communities who depend on fish for their way of life.

Why does it happen?

Overfishing occurs because fishing companies take too many fish from bodies of water at a time (fish are caught faster than they can reproduce). The government tries to regulate the fishing industry however fishing companies are usually dishonest when they report their catch.

What causes it?

Overfishing - The consequences

What are the impacts?

Overfishing causes both environmental and social impacts. The impacts include:


  • altered food chains
  • toxic effect on ocean health
  • overfishing of large shark species has had a ripple effect in the shark’s food chain, increasing the number of species, such as rays, that are usual prey for large sharks, resulting in declining amounts of smaller fish and shellfish favoured by these species
  • There might be too much fishing of prey species such as sardines and anchovies, which reduces the food supply for predators


  • supports a growing economy
  • gives many jobs
  • troubles with international treaties
  • European parliament dropped a treaty due to concerns of overfishing and other issues. Morocco then took away all European fishing boats from its waters, leaving hundreds of Spanish fisherman unemployed at a time when Spain cannot afford the additional economic impact



What can we do to make overfishing more sustainable?

  • stricter government fishing regulations
  • Safe catch limits
    A determined limit on the total number of fish caught and landed by a fishery
  • Controls on bycatch
    The use of techniques or management rules to prevent the unintentional killing and disposal of fish, crustaceans and other oceanic life not part of the catch
  • Protection of pristine and important habitats
    Key parts in ecosystems need full protection from destructive fisheries; e.g. the spawning and nursing grounds of fish, delicate sea floor, unique unexplored habitats, and corals
  • Monitoring and Enforcement
    A monitoring system to make sure fishermen do not fish more than they are allowed to, do not fish in closed areas.
  • A strong money enforcement is needed to make it hard to cheat
  • Raise awareness and be aware of what you eat,

Think about it...