How Overfishing Is Threatening Our Oceans


| LAST UPDATE 02/10/2022

By Hayden Katz
overfishing biodiversity concerns oceans
GENT SHKULLAKU Contributor via Getty Images

For a long time, scientists have voiced their concerns surrounding the harmful effects that overfishing has on our oceans. Unfortunately if this problem is left alone and nothing is done to reverse its outcome, it may end poorly. Here's a better understanding of what overfishing truly is.

The first instance where overfishing happened was around the 1800s, when people needed blubber for oil lamps. Sadly, during the process, they wiped out the whale population in Stellwagen Bank, off the coast of Cape Cod. But that's not all - other water animals, like California sardines and Atlantic cod's lives were close to extinction by the mid-1900s. When specified region areas are exposed to overconsumption, it can cause a disturbance in the food chain. And as time went on, the problem got worse. By the mid-20th century, there was an increase in big industrial fishing operations around the world.

overfishing trawling oceans sustainability
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The profit-based companies developed advanced technologies to find and extract fish from their homes. By 1989, the fish industry saw a decline in popular fish, like Chilean sea bass and bluefin tuna. In 2003, a scientific report had announced that there was an approximate 10% reduction of large ocean fish from the pre-industrialization period. So how exactly is overfishing hurting the biodiversity of our oceans? To make up for the decline of large fish, companies started digging deeper into the sea. This process, known as "fishing down," prompted a chain of circumstances that disrupted the balance of the ocean's biological system. For instance, plant-eating fish help maintain stability in the ecosystem by eating algae, which in turn keeps the coral clean, so it can grow. Removing them can harm and weaken coral reefs and overall make them more receptive to being wrecked by climate changes. Overfishing also impacts other marine species, intentional or not. In an effort to capture bluefin tuna and shrimp, the technique trawling is used. Trawling is when a large net is placed into the water, yet unfortunately, several surrounding species get trapped inside, like dolphins.

Clearly, something must be done to protect the biodiversity of our oceans. In 2020, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that there was a small increase of stocks that are sustainability producing as much food as they can. While that is the goal and it is beneficial, much more work needs to be done. Stay tuned.

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