The global numbers regarding fishing have gone from sustainable to straight-up devastating in just a few decades. Now, the creatures of the water have to fear about two more things in addition to human-made disasters – the rising water temperatures and plastic. There is no harm in fishing. It actually helps the marine ecosystem by keeping the aquatic population in check. But there is a difference between justified consumption and exploitation. And it seems that the differences are just a blur to us.
How severe is overfishing?
In just half a century, over-fished stocked grew triple its size. Its effects pushed one-third of the global fisheries to their biological limits.
Even if one species of fish gets wiped off from the earth, it is going to have a very drastic effect on the marine ecosystem.
What is overfishing?
Defining overfishing is simple. It happens when you catch fishes to the extent that there is not enough breeding population to fill the gap. And the next wave of fishing will further catch more breeding pairs, creating a chain of events where the fish population spirals down uncontrollably.
The brief history of whaling: pushing Cetaceans to the verge of extinction
Man’s desire to catch rare and magnificent forms of fishes began when we started to conquer the waters. However, the requirement of fish for industrial purposes first created the global epidemic. Whaling saw a rapid rise in the mid-19th century, where we embarked on a journey to find blubber. During the Antarctic season in 1927, a total of 13,775 whales were killed. Two years later, in 1929, the number of whales killed rose to 40,201.
Even with the International Agreement for the Regulation of Whaling signed in London in 1937, that same year saw the highest ever record of 46,039 whales being killed for their fat, meat, and bone.
The whaling practices of this era were so devastating that it pushed eight species of whales to the endangered list in 1970. Whaling was officially outlawed in the US during the year 1971.
As of 2019, 87 Cetacean species out of 90 were evaluated for the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. Out of them, three species are critically endangered, and ten are endangered.
It is quite depressing to know that we did this in the last 200 years.
Where are we currently on overfishing?
In just a matter of 55 years, overfishing has wiped out 90% of the apex level predators in the sea. It is an issue that needs much attention because we are disrupting the balance of the oceanic food chain.
Another troubling case with fishing en masse is that you don’t always get the fish that you are looking for in the fishing net. Almost always, there will be other types of marine life that will get picked up by the net.