“There are plenty of fish in the sea!” Not really.

by Aynsley Chaneco on April 19, 2014

The YouTube video above displays the numerous problems of overfishing, credited by Earth Touch

Remember in elementary school when your teacher would ask “How much of the world is covered by ocean?” and your class would answer “about 70%?” Now, putting this percentage into perspective, this means that more than two-thirds of our planet is filled with aquatic wildlife, while terrestrial creatures occupy just a third of the earth. The world’s oceans contain countless numbers of fisheries and together with the interdependent relationship of the sea and their fish, they create the lungs of the Earth.

However, an international crisis is suffocating our Earth’s lungs. The widespread environmental issue of overfishing is the process of taking marine wildlife from the sea at overwhelmingly rapid rates that prevent the fished species to reproduce themselves. The origins of overfishing occurred during the early 1800s when people hunted the whale population in order to use their blubber for lamp oil, causing the population to decimate. Today, billions of people are heavily reliant on fish as a protein source, as one in five people depend on fish as their primary source for protein. In the hungry eyes of countries like the US and Japan, where sushi is a delicacy, the ocean is viewed as a treasure trove of fish and fish is a limitless bounty of food.

However, if the ocean is so bountiful of fish and as “limitless” as the amount of air on Earth, then why is overfishing a problem? Gathering and hunting as much fish as we can to sustain ourselves doesn’t seem so drastic and harmful, but what will happen to our oceans and marine life in the future? What consequences will humans suffer from in the long run?

Our hunger has turned into greed. Oceans produce nearly $3 trillion of goods each year, an outstanding value for fish markets’ pockets and consumers’ stomachs. The fishermen community has taken advantage of this value and their efforts are seen as fishing fleets across the globe have expanded to about two to three times as large as needed to take excessive catches of fish over the ocean’s carrying capacity. With their immense expansions of fleets, the “so-called” infinite supply of fish has drastically reached its limit. As of today, it has been statistically reported that approximately 80% of the world’s fisheries have been exploited and/or in decline and that 90% of major predatory fish such as tuna, sharks, swordfish, cod, and halibut have been completely wiped out.

“80% of the world’s fisheries are in decline and near extinction”

The decline in fisheries doesn’t just stop there. It has been predicted by scientists that when 2050 comes along, if these trends continue in such a negative direction, the world food fisheries could collapse entirely. Certain species of fish have already been trending downward to extinction. For example the Wolrd Wildlife Foundation has predicted that, the Atlanta Bluefin tuna, one of the ocean’s largest and fastest predators are hunted down so they can be rolled up into sushi, will completely disappear within only three years. These drastic wipeouts in species of fish clearly represent correlating detrimental decline in fish as a food source for people, but overfishing has also been disseminating our source for oxygen.

As mentioned before, the ocean and its fish have represented the “lungs of the Earth.” Ocean’s produce half the world’s supply of oxygen, mostly through photosynthesis by aquatic algae and other deep-water dwelling organisms. However, with the rising issue of global warming, the oceans are trying to sustain themselves through the increases of temperature, but their sustainability is dwindling. As temperatures of the Earth rises, the oceans’ waters will also increase in temperature causing the water to separate into layers, further separating the distribution of nutrients. With such segregation, the nutrients available for the photosynthetic algae follows an inverse relationship by decreasing in quantity, leading to a decreased amount of chlorophyll so the algae practically cannot photosynthesize at all. In continuing such a domino effect of change after change in the ocean, less oxygen is produced which means more carbon is made, and with more carbon comes greenhouse gases entering the mixture, causing heat and even more increasing rises in oceans, and the last domino in the ocean topples.

Overfishing does more damage to the oceans than all other human activities there put together. More than 2/3 of fish stocks on the high seas are over-exploited and 100% of the world’s fisheries could be completely gone within the next few decades. The ocean and its marine wildlife is experiencing environmental havoc and chaos, which will only create dire consequences on our territorial grounds for society.

 

 

WORKS CITED

“Governing the High Seas in Deep Water.” The Economist 22 Feb. 2014: 51-53. Web.

Koster, Pepijin. “Latest Articles.” Overfishing. N.p., 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

“The Ocean.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.

Plumer, Brad. “Just How Badly Are We Overfishing the Oceans?” Washington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.

Ross, Philip. “Overfishing Causes Ecosystems To ‘Unravel,’ Fish Populations Can’t Recover After ‘Tipping Points’ Reached.” International Business Times. N.p., 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

“STATUS OF THE WORLD’S FISHERIES.” STATUS OF THE WORLD’S FISHERIES. University of Michigan, 04 Jan. 2006. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

“Threat 1: Overfishing.” Overfishing. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

Vince, Gaia. “How the World’s Oceans Could Be Running out of Fish.” BBC. N.p., 21 Sept. 2012. Web.

Image Source: http://wildliferesearch.org/category/overfishing/


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