Sustainable Fishing: The Future

29% of the oceans around the world are considered overfished according to Triple Pundit. Although there is the obvious appeal for fishers to catch as many as they can at a time to achieve an immediate payoff, we need to look towards the future. This method of aggressive fishing can cause populations of species to dwindle and go beyond the point where they can replenish themselves, eventually going extinct. Once a species goes extinct, it has a ripple effect on the entire ecosystem, causing the ecosystem to become more susceptible to climatic impacts.

Not only do we have to worry about overfishing the actual species that were trying to catch but also the unintended casualties as well. With bycatch, longline fishing methods intended for Bluefin tuna will ensnare sea turtles, swordfish, birds, dolphins etc. This bycatch will then be thrown back into the ocean dead or tangled.

However, there are “sustainable” ways to fish that ensure populations to be able to reestablish themselves. According to NatGeo Some of these techniques include having certain times of the years off-limits to fish to allow the population to bounce back, as well as having certain areas like coral reefs be off-limits. Other ways are to use hook-line/rod-and-reel fishing that allows you to not have as much bycatch, or to participate in spearfishing and cast nets that allows you to target specific species.

Another option is to have more fisheries that have the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) approval. With this certificate you can say that you participate in hundreds of sustainable friendly improvements to fishing, and 600 more come 2020. These fisheries help the environment by increasing population to endangered species, preventing seabird deaths, bringing back species considered “extinct”, etc. As of 2014 there has been an 11% increase in the purchases of MSC products. Showing an increase in the consumer population to show that they care and support sustainable fishing methods.

Lastly there is option to choose to not eat these endangered species, or less seafood in general. Even to educate ourselves about how our seafood got to our plate and where it’s from is very helpful in making a decision. Whatever your decision is you should keep in mind our impact on a very fragile ecosystem that takes up 71% of this planet. We have an option to halt this destruction in its tracks before it passes the point beyond no return.

 

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Sustainable Fishing: The Future

  1. amyquandt

    How do you think people employed in the fishing industry would react to the suggestions you give about increasing sustainability. Are they willing to comply with fishing restrictions for the long term benefit of their livelihood? I see this as a big problem as many people are just trying to feed their families.

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    • tayloreshreve

      It is very hard to see long term gain in the future when you have to sacrifice so much currently. I think that the only way around this is to really educate these people who are affected by a restriction, to make them see that is a necessary sacrifice if they want to continue what they are doing into the future.

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  2. clint1829

    How do you suggest certain populations reduce their impacts on fish populations when they traditionally fish one species? It would be difficult for them to take off certain months of the year because they rely on fishing for their livelihood. Additionally, how are MSC regulations enforced? Are holders of these certificates being held accountable for their fishing practices?

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  3. cooperluvisa

    I really like the MSC idea of having a certified sticker to be applied to the packaging on sustainably fished, fish. This would work well in supermarkets because people like to feel good about what they purchase, so it could work as a great way to promote buying sustainable seafood. I also think the most productive way to reduce by-catch is to minimize the use of net fishing. I wonder how the fishers would react to a huge change like this. Lastly, I would be curious to see how you think we should go about choosing which fish are able to be fished or not. For example, Tuna has some of the most declining populations in the world, yet it is also a favorite to a large portion of the population. Do you think we could actually ban the fishing of some of these extremely popular meals?

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    • tayloreshreve

      I don’t see us being able to ban fishing of extremely popular fish varieties such as Tuna, however it starts with educating the people the long term effects of their choices. Once people can really see how each purchase is supporting the collapse of the species, they might fear never having the change to buy it again in their lifetimes which might change their eating habits.

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  4. peterpatrakis

    I really like this article because lowering commercial fishing limits has been an issue for some time in the U.S. Do you think overfishing is more of a problem in the U.S. or other countries like China who catch 1/3 of the worlds fish supply?

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    • tayloreshreve

      I think that globally as a whole we need to tackle this problem, it won’t work if only certain countries are taking part. But yes China has a large population with a heavy reliance on a seafood diet, their eating habits as well as ours need to change.

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  5. jeongyeonlee

    Great post! Overfishing is not only US’s problem but also other countries’. Is there any regulation or act that actually control overfishing except MSC idea in US?

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    • tayloreshreve

      There are already regulations in place of when fisherman can fish, what they can fish, and how much they can fish. All of this helps populations to recover in the mean time.

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  6. miltonlockett

    This was an interesting read. I think that consumers who live far away from the ocean or sea, but eat seafood, drive these kinds of fishery practices. It seems that fisheries struggle to keep up with demand, so they decide to drag in whatever fish their net can catch. Do you think consumers deciding not to eat seafood if it isn’t local can cause these unsustainable practices to shift? Or possibly the other way around?

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    • tayloreshreve

      The consumers definitely have the power to change the unsustainable practices. If there is no market for it they won’t continue their practices. Forcing them to shift to more sustainable practices.

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  7. madisonsmith71

    Great post and this is a huge issue at hand! What can consumers do to help this issue?

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    • tayloreshreve

      Like I mentioned in the article we can actively choose with our spending. If we stick to environmentally sustainable brands we can really help populations recover.

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  8. It becomes harder and harder for me to justify eating anything that comes out of the ocean. Some shellfish and crustaceans are marginally “sustainable” but fish stocks all over the world are over-exploited. It is also very difficult for the consumer to verify whether a fish claimed to be sustainable or harvested without bycatch, actually is.

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    • tayloreshreve

      I grew up in Hawaii and seafood has been a big part of my life and culture, however once knowing more and more about how unsustainable most fishing practices are I began researching what brands were sustainable and choose with my spendings to support sustainable practices.

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