Alternatives to Help Prevent Overfishing

Overfishing has become an increasingly detrimental environmental issue over the past few decades and the practice has created long-term harm to our oceans. According to Wildlife Extra News, “Populations of numerous migratory fish species in the North Atlantic have declined by more than 95 percent, threatening not only food supplies and economic systems, but also the way humans perceive the health of the planet’s ecosystems” (WEN 2009). 95 percent is an alarmingly high number and certain species are in even further decline.

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“Once-abundant Allis shad, a member of the herring family that lives most of its life in coastal waters but migrated into rivers to spawn, plummeted by 99.9 percent in the Rhine River in the Netherlands between 1886 and 1933; the same species dropped by 99.4 percent in the Minho River in Portugal between 1925 and 1988” (WEN).

With those numbers in mind, it is important to be aware of possible alternatives to overfishing. To keep certain species from being wiped out all together due to mile length nets catching intended fish species as well as by-catch, some organizations have formulated ways to decrease this harm to ocean ecosystems. Hong Kong issued a Marine Fish Culture Ordinance that allows few specific recreational fishing operations and requires consent forms, contains strict rules, and forbids recreational fisheries from interfering with the culture environment (Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department). Having such rules and restrictions helps to maintain and conserve current operations without the underwater ecosystem taking a further hit.

Other solutions include policy implementation that would prevent fishermen to use trawl nets that are big enough to hold 13 airplanes at the opening. However, this policy implementation would be complicated since it would restrict fishermen’s profits. In that case, some recommend setting stricter regulation and supervision at fisheries to ensure that companies are not cutting corners or farming more fish than permitted. From a consumer perspective, the best solution is to decrease the amount of fish in one’s diet in order to put less stress and demand on the seafood market. This would take a long time, but if enough people reduced the amount of fish they ate, fisheries may not need to se such large nets to catch all sorts of marine species.

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4 Comments

by | October 28, 2016 · 11:50 am

4 responses to “Alternatives to Help Prevent Overfishing

  1. amyquandt

    Are certain areas of the ocean or species of fish more overfished than others? What resources would you recommend that list sustainably fished species?

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    • I remember learning in conservation biology that another issue with overfishing is that even protected species (endangered, etc) end up at fishing markets under different species names. This allows vendors to sell them without retribution, and the biggest issue is that these species can’t recover, even though there are paws stating they should not be fished. Did you come across this problem in your research? And do you think there are any policies that can be put in place to reduce or monitor this phenomenon of catching and selling protected and threatened fish species?

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      • perrilongley

        I did not come across that particular issue in my research but it definitely sounds like something that needs to be carefully monitored. In terms of policy making, all I can think of is the general consensus to increase the amount of people or machines monitoring fisheries, especially since other types of illegal activity take place at these sites.

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    • perrilongley

      Overfishing occurs all over the world and according to the WWF, only 1.6% of the worlds oceans are protected or declared as marine protected areas. Additionally, 90% of those marine protected areas are open to fishing. This 1.6% is important to preserve and hopefully grow to a higher number because it protects coral reefs and existing ecosystems from high volume fishing. Some resources for sustainably fished seafood is found on the Marine Stewardship Council’s website. It has a long list of brands and retailers that raise certified sustainable seafood.

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