Oceans cover much of the world. They contain many fish that are the primary diets for many nations. The ocean ecosystem is vital to all life. For a long time, it was believed that there was no end to the amount of fish in the ocean. It was thought there was endless supply. That belief has changed and our oceans are being overfished to the point that some fish species have collapsed and many more are in danger. Overfishing is not just endangering the fish that live in the ocean, but it negatively affects the whole ecosystem. (oceanworld. com)
Overfishing is an amount of fish than cannot sustain itself. (Fisheries and Oceans of Canada, 2009). Overfishing reduces the fish that are available for consumption all over the world. For many countries, this can be disastrous as fish is a main food for them. It creates the loss of food for other species in the ocean as well. Overfishing has caused destruction to estuaries and coral reefs. The Chesapeake Bay has experienced a devastating loss of its oysters, which balance out oxygen-producing algae. It has just 1% of the oysters it once had due to overfishing. (seethesea. rg). Our reefs are being destroyed by dynamite fishing and spearfishing. Overfishing of the necessary fish (herbivores) that eat algae on the reefs is now a threat to the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. (BUZZLE. com).
Technology has contributed heavily to the overfishing problem. It has created large, sustainable fishing ships with high-tech sonar and radar technology for locating fish. New and better made nets and trawls are now used to trap fish and processing and freezing of the caught fish can be done while still out on the ship in the ocean is possible. (Fisheries and Oceans of Canada, 2009). These modern nets tend to trap everything, including smaller fish or animals that the crew does not want, resulting in fish bycatch. Due to high human demand for seafood, crews have fished every fishing area in the world and there aren’t any left to exploit. (Greenberg, 2009, p. 85). One reason for this is that some nations overconsumed more fish than they had primary producers in their economic zones. The economic zone is 200 nautical miles from their coasts.
Overfishing has already collapsed a number of species of fish. Many others are near collapse and something must be done or the disruption of the ocean ecosystem and the dependence of others ecosystems will be thrown out of balance. The primary producers of the ocean have to be able to replenish themselves. Many countries buy more fish than they catch. Wealthier nations can bid high for fishing grounds. Poorer nations usually have their fish bought from them. (Greenberg, 2010).
Simply changing how much fish and seafood we eat will not fix this problem according to scientist Daniel Pauly, University of British Columbia. (Greenberg, p. 89). He says that we need treaties and bills using comparable strategies similar to those that have worked for terrestrial ecosystems and to protect our fishing areas. There needs to be a way to establish who is catching what in our oceans by measuring the impacts each nation has on the ocean. Erin Sala says, “barely one percent of the ocean is now protected, compared with 12 percent of the land”.
That’s pretty astounding, when the ocean covers more than 90 percent of the world. (Greenburg, p. 89). We take in four times the seafood we did 60 years ago. We have to reduce the number of fish that we take in. We have to encourage policy and law makers to pass bills that reduce the number and size of fish being caught. Policies should be in place to regulate the amount of bycatch a catch can yield. On a personal level, we can buy and consume less products made with fish, such as paint. We can vote and voice our opinion.
On a larger scale, laws about trawling should be enacted. Dragging the net along bottom of the ocean is damaging many small, soft animals and organisms. Studies show that areas trawled often, have “radically different and unnatural ecosystems. ” (Noyes, 2009). Regulations have not all been effective in the past. Aquacultures need to be reduced in the future and marine zoned reserves protected. There are many land zones that cannot be exploited there should be more marine reserves. This has proven most effective in the past.
Time for a Sea Change. National Geographic (Vol. 218, No. 4). October, 2010. Jeantheau, M. (2005). Pretty Mermaids are Always Over Fishing for Compliments: The Causes and Effects of Overfishing. Retrieved from http://www. grinningplanet. com on 01/31/2011. Ocean World (2010). Retrieved from http://www. oceanworld. tamu. edu/students/fisheries on 01/24/2011. Sea the Sea. org. Retrieved from http://see-the-sea. org/topics/commerce/overfishing. htm on 01/25/2011.