Since time immemorial, humans relied on the oceans and other bodies of water for edible seafood. Now, according to Fish Forward, more than ¾ of fish stocks are fully fished. The result? We endanger marine species, including the Pacific Bluefin tuna and swordfish, and their habitats.
Life underwater may seem peaceful, but it’s not the case anymore. Whale, dolphin, and turtle populations are rapidly declining. They are not necessarily hunted but killed as bycatch, another global problem that needs to be addressed soon since approximately 40% of the global catch consists of bycatch.
These global marine problems call for collective sustainable fishing. What is it, and why is it important? Read further.
The Underwater Situation
The oceans seem still, but what lies underneath is an awakening truth that the underwater world is rapidly becoming empty. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s 2018 Living Planet Report, humanity has caught almost 6 billion tons of fish and other marine species from the seas since 1950, making the fishing industry the primary threat to marine and ocean life.
Sustainable Fishing and Its Importance
Fishing sustainably involves leaving enough fish populations in the oceans, protecting marine ecosystems, and threatened species. Sustainable fishing combats overfishing, bringing a negative domino effect in water-based marine systems that is difficult to reverse.
Overfishing does not only damage marine ecosystems, but it also affects the quality of seafood we eat. Since overfishing can cause endangerment and extinction of fish species, it affects other species in the marine ecosystem than prey on or is the prey of the now-endangered animals.
Therefore, it’s important to note that sustainable fishing does not only protect marine life but is also a way to protect our future, allowing us to keep eating nutritious seafood in the coming years.
Causes of Overfishing
Certain human practices cause overfishing. Listed below are the common causes:
Poor fisheries management – The traceability of fishing practices has posed a significant challenge to authorities. The rules and regulations are deemed ineffective in limiting fishing capacity to sustainable measures.
Destructive fishing – This involves using nets and other gears to catch fish to the point of endangerment.
Illegal fishing activities – This involves poaching, unregulated fishing, and trawling, which refers to the action of scraping along the sea bottom to gather fish.
Sustainable Fishing Practices
Whether you’re a novice or experienced angler, you should follow these sustainable fishing practices.
Hook-and-Lining – This technique uses a fishing pole with one line and several hooks. This type of technique will allow you to release bycatch quickly.
Trolling – This technique involves using anchored lines from a moving boat so you can hook fish one by one to limit bycatch and allow their immediate release.
Longlining – This method uses a long central fishing line with attached smaller lines of baited hooks. When cast in the water and circle hooks are utilized, they limit the likelihood of acquiring bycatch.
Here are other tips you should keep in mind:
Using lead-free tackle – Many fishing jigs and sinkers still use lead, a toxic metal that can cause health problems to fish and birds like eagles and loons.
Catch and release – As much as possible, release your catch to help save fish populations.
There are a lot of factors that lead to overfishing. But if we practice sustainable fishing collectively, we can combat marine life imbalance and destructive fishing activities.
Kenneth Reaves is a nature-loving, passionate angler who practices sustainable fishing. He is the owner of Perfect Captain, a website wherein he shares his professional insight and advice on fishing tips and equipment.