Wiping out oceans
Overfishing and a lack of regulations, has resulted in a massive deterioration in world fisheries over the last 30 years. Giant ships are now using state-of-the-art sonar to pinpoint schools of fish quickly and accurately. Using methods like bottom trawling and long-lining, these fleets are capable of wiping out entire fisheries in a single season. This has resulted in a depletion of fish stocks, faster than they can be reproduced.
State of world's fisheries
As per the United Nations1:
- Over 80% of global fish stocks are either fully depleted or overexploited
- Over 1974 to 2008, the share of depleted / overexploited fish stocks has increased from 10% to 35%
- The share of under / moderately exploited stocks has fallen to 15% from 40%
- If commercial fishing of our oceans continues at current levels, it is predicted that all species currently fished would be exhausted by 2048.
Loss of biodiversity
Big fish are more prone to being caught in nets. humans are rapidly fishing their way through fish populations, starting with the largest, then targeting progressively smaller species until there's nothing left to catch.. It is estimated that 90% of the world's large predatory fishes, such as cod, tuna and grouper have been depleted since 1950.
Some of the other major instances of overfishing and depletion of fishing stocks include:
- collapse of shrimp and groupers in the Indian oceans
- the Peruvian anchovy fisheries, where capture has fallen by over 60%
- collapse of the cod fishery of Newfoundland
- sole fisheries in the Irish sea & the west English channel
- many deep sea fish are at risk including the orange roughy, Patagonian toothfish and sablefish.
By-catch / non-target fish
Particularly disturbing is the large number of ‘by-catch’ sea animals that are killed every year, as it is not possible for fishing nets to target only those fish that are meant to be eaten. Scientists have found that nearly 1,000 species of marine mammals— including dolphins, whales, and porpoises—die each day after they are caught in fishing nets. The amount of fish and other species caught as “by-catch” is estimated by the UN FAO2 to be more than 20 million tonnes globally, which is equivalent to 23 per cent of marine landings, and growing.
The depletion of our oceans, has lead to aquaculture representing the fastest growing segment in the animal based food production sector. Aquaculture already represents around half of global fish supplies, with a rapidly increasing share. Unfortunately, the destruction of their natural habitats means fish are also now being bred with the same levels of confinement, denials of natural instincts, abuse and exposure to diseases faced by land animals in the food industry globally.
1- UN FAO, 2012 Statistical Year Book
2- UN FAO, General facts regarding world fisheries