With the destructive nature of this water activity, is overfishing already illegal? In various reports, overfishing resulted in fish species becoming underpopulated in different areas. However, are there any acts or laws prohibiting this inhumane fishing activity?
Fortunately, several countries are now managing their fisheries to avoid overfishing. More and more countries are being careful and more strict regarding rules and regulations of water reservoirs and protect the life of species under the water. Moreover, it helps in preventing overfishing and illegal catches and trade.
What makes overfishing illegal? What are its threats, and what does it do to fish species? Overfishing can occur in water bodies of any size, such as ponds, rivers, lakes, or oceans. It can result in depletion of resources, reduced biological growth rates, and low levels of biomass. Let’s talk more about it.
What is Overfishing?
Overfishing means only catching fish at too high rates where fish stocks become too depleted to recover. With oceans covering more than 70% of the world, sea creatures and marine life’s overall health are essential to maintaining life elsewhere. However, overfishing has drastic effects on the future of ocean and land dwellers alike.
What Are The Causes of Overfishing?
Overfishing happens as more fish are captured and will then multiply for repopulation. It is because fishing has been a human-used industry for a long time; there are many reasons why it is a concern today.
Cause #1 – Lack Of Resources And Tracking Activity Resulting Into Difficulties In Regulating Fishing Areas
Most of the world’s areas have a complete lack of regulation related to their fishing industry, which ensures that the fishing fleet practices and activities are not regulated or lightly regulated. There are little or no restrictions, at all, on fishing activities in international waters, which means that fishing fleets can circumvent areas with regulations.
Cause #2 – Lack Of Information About Fish Populations
Problems with customs and imports where the provenance of the fish is not checked, resulting in hidden activities such as naming something else one kind of fish. Unreported fish species are other causes, which is almost impossible to track. Many countries have fishing subsidies, which keep their numbers higher than they need to be. It is estimated that the number of fleets is 2 1⁄2 times greater than required.
What Are The Effects of Overfishing?
According to current estimates, overfishing has affected more than 85% of the world’s fish stocks, and most fisheries are fished well beyond their sustainable potential. It is likely to have long-term effects on human consumption, but a variety of effects are also present due to overfishing.
1.Removal of Essential Predators
Sharks and tuna are especially vulnerable to overfishing. If diverted from the areas in which they live, this ensures that marine animals are adversely affected further down the food chain. Populations may grow more substantial, and the function of these more massive creatures – from what they eat to the way their bodies decompose. It means it has potentially lethal effects on ocean ecology.
2.Compromised Coral Reef Health
With a more significant number of smaller marine species, coral reefs, and other elements of the ocean’s biodiversity experience more significant harm. Reefs are essential for ocean life, like being a home to various fish species. It is difficult to repair the damage once they get harmed.
3.Unwanted Growth of Algae And Unintended Catches
Algae are essential in controlled amounts to help marine life thrive, but if it is allowed to grow at will, it can impact fish, reefs, and more, leading to severe destruction. Another concern about overfishing is that several sea creatures get caught in the process, but don’t get used to food because the industry is massive. It will mean that the existence of fishing vessels will affect anything from the whales to the turtles.
4.The Threat to Local Food Sources
There are several communities worldwide that depend on fish as their primary food resource. Overfishing development has brought severe threats to these societies, which are mostly in developing countries. The populations of local food sources may become endangered without the opportunity to catch their food.
For economic sustainability, many of these societies that depend on fish for food often rely on low-level fishing industries. Unlike large-scale fishing operations, these projects usually do much less harm to their marine life as they are far smaller. However, they are likely to have trouble in the future when these communities can not access food or their financial support.
6.Imbalance of the Marine Ecosystems
Overfishing has a very negative effect on marine habitats. The conditions may be so weak that the fish can no longer be able to support themselves. The water body’s food chain is often impaired when a single species of fish is captured repeatedly and in an unregulated manner. Consequently, several other fish species rely on that one species suffer due to lack of food and die.
We must note that there is another group of species with the growth of the targeted species. Those are untargeted species that will soon become endangered species. It is due to the existing ecological imbalance and the lack of sufficient measures to raise their population in a water body.
To reinforce proper ecological equilibrium in different bodies of water, the fisheries must be equipped with the appropriate instruments and the appropriate scientific knowledge to enable proper aquaculture practice. The aquaculture practices are vastly unsuitable due to this lack of proper scientific knowledge.
How Does Overfishing Threaten Coral Reefs?
Coral reef habitats in the US and its territories provide substantial commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishery resources. For many island and coastal communities, where fishing is always a vital source of food and employment, it often plays a critical social and cultural role.
Across certain places, the effects of industrial fishing on coral reef areas will contribute to the extinction of key reef species. These losses also have a ripple impact, not just on the habitats of the coral reef but also on the local economies that rely on it. Other forms of fishing gear can also cause severe physical harm to coral reefs, seagrass beds, and other critical marine ecosystems.
Although mostly reasonably small in scale, if done unsustainably, coral reef fishing may have severe environmental impacts. Rapid human population growth, increased demand, the use of more advanced fishing equipment, and inadequate management and control in many locations have resulted in the loss of crucial coral species and habitat destruction.
Coral reef fish are an essential source of food for more than a billion people worldwide. Several coastal and island communities rely on fishing for the economic, social, and cultural benefits of coral reefs. But for coral reefs, too much success can be evil.
Government Regulations For Overfishing
There are several regulatory mechanisms in place to monitor overfishing. These measures include fishing quotas, bag limits, licensing, seasons closed, size limits, and marine reserves and other marine protected areas created.
Management steps such as temporary restrictions or the establishment of a marine protected area of fishing areas are counterproductive when not paired with individual fishing quotas. An underlying quotas challenge is that the fish stocks differ from year to year. A study found that, after tumultuous years, fish stocks increase significantly due to more nutrients entering the surface and thus more excellent primary production. Every year quotas have to be updated to compensate for the fish population to fish sustainably.
Being an angler, you have to respect and take care of the marine life. Otherwise, future generations won’t be able to enjoy this fun-filled activity. Moreover, overfishing has tremendous effects on the fishing market, leading to economic and residential catastrophes. So, be a responsible fisher at all times. Obey and follow the rules and proper guidelines in catching fish species.