Over ¾ of Earth consists of water. The 20th century revealed that fishing prospects have increased with fishers exploiting both offshore and deep waters in search for fish (Shea 52). The most amazing thing about this is the biodiversity that is found in water bodies. Fish is very important because a man depends on it, not only for food, but also for economic gains. Due to the growing demands, human beings have resorted to the massive exploitation of water bodies or the lucrative fish species. Coupled with ignorance and a lack of global knowledge on how to manage, there has been a spiral effect, termed as overfishing. An independent problem is facing the aquatic biodiversity. The global environment is, therefore, under siege, and if this is not remedied, it is posited to cause even greater environmental effects to humans. It is obvious that humanity depends on the marine and freshwater biodiversity and, thus, everyone must make a difference in alleviating the overfishing menace (Shea, 64). There is a great deal of interdependence within the aquatic species; destroying one aspect ultimately affects the other. The abundance of flora and fauna in water bodies may become a dwindling resource. Overfishing will cause great harm to marine life and to our environment. It is people’s responsibility to protect the biologic chain of ocean animals. Overfishing leads to the destruction and depletion of fish with its effects extending to the water bodies like seas and oceans, making the investigation into its causes, impacts and solutions vital.
Definition and Causes
Overfishing is a broad term that goes beyond the overexploitation of fish. It affects not only large oceans and lakes, but it even affects small water bodies, such as ponds and rivers. The concern is not just maintaining a high number of fish in the biological diversity: the occurrence of diverse species of fish and aquatic species. It can be defined as the commercial and non-commercial fishing that depletes the fish stock due to the exploitation of adult fish, thus leaving very little to replenish the population. It can be summarized as an excess of carrying the capacity of fishery.
Every environmental aspect focuses on sustainability, and, thus, overfishing is not a sustainable approach to exploitation of natural resources, in this case, fish. It occurs in very high intensities that tend to reduce breeding stocks at an alarming rate. Unlike forests that can be conserved by a specific area for their own short-term and long-term goals, fish occur in international waters and need collective responsibilities in order to conserve. There are, therefore, various causes of overfishing across the globe with most of them pointing to the kind of materials and techniques that are used in fishing, inefficient policies and laws that have increased illegal fishing and the increased poverty that have caused people to pursue economics at the environment’s expense (Shea 35). The pressure that is mounted on fisheries is caused by increased demands for fishery products, the increase in fishing technologies that have made it easier to capture large amounts of fish.
Based on fishing methods and techniques, there is an outcry about the sustainability of the methods. Their impacts are great, such that they are affecting the basic functioning of an entire aquatic ecosystem (Maiti and Maiti 305). For instance, unselective fishing practices and fishing gears have harmful effects on target and non-target species. A good example is a concept of bycatch and bottom trawling. In as much as they meet the short-term needs of fishers, there are repercussions, as they may not have any fish to exploit in the future. Therefore, the concept of poor, inefficient and unsustainable methods have had a reaching effect on the fish stocks all over the world (Shea 15). For instance, some of the techniques used have led to the unintended overfishing of sharks that has upset the entire marine ecosystem. In most cases, the overfishing and indiscriminate use of methods are done even when there are only juveniles left. It destroys the ecosystem’s ability to recover from such a depletion (Phillips 273). Fishing boats that are continuously used by fishers have a higher chance of causing significant changes in the species’ composition. It is a threat to biological diversity and, in turn, it causes a shift in the ecosystem.
Another cause of overfishing is the illegal fishing, which destroys the energy lows within aquatic ecosystems and, consequently, it is depleting the sticks of fish. For instance, there are certain species of fish, termed as endangered and when they harvest them, their numbers decrease (Shea 35). Illegal fishing does not take considerations for this because there are no regulations to monitor their exploitation. Illegal fishing destroys one species, and causes the increase of another, which distorts food chains.
Another cause of overfishing touches on the lack of laws, and this may be considered one of the worst problems in maintaining the biological diversity. When there are no laws, a double-edged problem causes a massive depletion of fish stocks. For example, there is no regulation on the kinds of fishing techniques and on methods that fishers can use (Shea 61). It causes indiscriminate fishing that may end up destroying one species of fish to extinction.
There is also the problem of lack of boundary setting on fishing. When laws are available, responsible institutions demarcate boundaries, where breeding occurs and guides on the right amount of fishing. Without these, fishing is carried out in all parts of the water, sometimes destroying the breeding grounds for fish (Shea 35). Additionally, regulations provide people with the relevant information on breeding seasons of fish, and it allows substantial time for the fish to breed. When fish are not given time tip breed, the result is an overfished aquatic ecosystem, with very little or no hope for rejuvenating.
However, the main problem that faces fisheries is poverty. It is mostly synonymous with developing countries that also boast of vast oceans and lakes. Poverty makes people neglect sustainability and conservation issues, and embark on detrimental overexploitation. Their main ideas lie in the short-term achievement of their physical and financial needs with little concern for the fishery (Shea 61). It is also clear that poverty goes hand in hand with illiteracy, hindering the people’s understanding of concepts and knowledge on conservation and sustainability.
The most concerning cause is poverty, and it is seen that there should be a shift in this trend; then fisheries will have a break from the painful effects of overfishing (Sharpless and Suzannah 41). The result of the uncontrolled causes has been a loss of precious fish species that would have rid the world of maladies, like schistosomiasis. This destruction of the biologic chain, therefore, calls for solutions, long-term solutions that can achieve the sustainable resource goals.
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Effects of Overfishing
The effects of overfishing are also broad, and they transcend to the local economy, fishery industry, but, most importantly, on the biologic chain of water bodies. Economies largely depend on fish for their survival and for growth (Hilborn and Ulrike 38) This is why many times they call for the need to sustainably exploit this resource. Therefore, the effects of overfishing greatly affect their economic prospects and conservation calls (Shea 63). Depleted fish stocks cost much money, and the problem occurs when it is the dominant economic driver of an area. The result is increased rates of poverty among the fishers and high standards of living to try to catch up with the economic downfall.
The effects of overfishing, due to the use of specific fishing techniques, are enormous. Fishing techniques are classified as either passive or as active gears. There are certainly active and passive gears that do not improve the quality of fish stocks (Finley 12). The most adverse are bottom trawling and dredging. Bottom trawling involves the use of nets that are dragged along the sea bottom, which is not good for the fish habitats. They also collect fish indiscriminately, leading to depletion of fish. The other one is dredging that destroys the complexity of the sea bottom, making it easy for some fish species to survive. It leads to their deaths.
Additionally, overfishing leads to the destruction and destruction of food chains and food webs. It is typically seen in marine water bodies, where specific fishing methods lead to the depletion of sharks (Finley 15). Sharks are essential predators in the food webs. Biologically, food webs are complex systems that lead to ecosystem controls. When they are depleted, or their numbers reduced, there is the probability that this triggers effects in trophic levels. In the trophic level, the disruption leads to an overshoot of particular organisms and to the depletion of others, causing biodiversity loss. In addition to this, there are ecosystem disruptions that are affected by the impact of survival or death of certain fish species. In turn, they interfere with breeding.
The other effect of overfishing focuses on the increase of algae in the water bodies and consequent threats on marine coral reefs. These are important marine components, whose health has been affected by the overfishing. Additionally, bycatch is a major erect of overfishing, leading to the unintended loss of marine organisms, such as the turtles and cetaceans (Shea 53). These vital organisms form a part of biodiversity.
Fish are all around the world, and are not only used for food, but also a variety of economic activities; for instance, fish farming and the local levels bring about great returns to an individual and then to the local economy. Without enough fish, such activities fail, and this hurts the world’s economies (Finley 14). Also, there is the activities search – fish sporting. Usually, this lucrative activity earns local revenues that ultimately improves an economy. Without this, an economy crushes. Most of the times, overfishing affects just certain species of fish. It is because only some are considered economically viable and, therefore, lucrative businesses.
They are also the kinds of stocks that economy mostly depends on. When a fish species is depleted, there is no chance for an economy to redeem itself. For example, when trout are overfished, the carp species of fish colonize the water, making it impossible for them to recolonize the water again. It means that all hope may be lost for an economy that depended on trout.
Another problem that affects the economy is the need to invest its money to save a rising problem due to overfishing. For instance, the ecosystem is interconnected. Various organisms depend on one another for survival (Finley 17). For instance, human beings depend on some fish species to eat some disease-causing vectors without which their prevalence cannot be controlled. For example, Schistosomiasis is inked with the decline of a given fish species that eat the snails. Therefore, countries in Africa have to spend millions to deal with the problem.
The most pronounced effect is seen in the depletion of the biologic chain. For instance, young fish are often overfished, leading to the inability of oceans to grow regarding biodiversity. The oceans have, consequently, lost precious species that are useful in the control of other harmful species. This, therefore, means that the biologic chain has been destroyed beyond repair. Gathering many species of fish may seem like a profitable adventure, but the long-term effects are that some of the fish will be lost (Finley 14). For instance, in the case of Africa, where Schistosomiasis is out of control to reveal that population watched as overfishing depleted some of the most precious fish species that would have curbed certain problems.
Biodiversity is a good concept because it brings forward the interdependence of systems without which some systems are destroyed. People all over the world rely on fish for proteins and other substances that have helped to solve some ailments. However, the increased fishing efforts, together with the lack of sustainability, have pushed the fish stocks to the point of complete collapse. Fisheries and the biological chain are about the numbers of species of fish, and not about the number of fish. For instance, the tuna species have been depleted to a point, where some water bodies have no trace of it. It is blamable on target fishing that is not concerned with the preservation of certain precious species. Tuna is a biological aquatic predator that controls the populations of other species (Shea 79). Without it, marine communities are being altered, and the composition is detrimental to the sustainable future of fisheries and to the biological chain. It leads to the abundance of smaller species, such as the sardines. Although they are vital, there is the need for biological control.
Effects of overfishing show that the world has already lost the majority of its predatory fish stocks. The existing laws are not effective in dealing with the menace, making the problem spiral out of control. In the real world, these issues affect everyone, the laws of the sea and treaties on biodiversity compel every individual to work towards improving the biological composition of the earth and the aquatic component, especially because of overfishing. Ecosystems are lost beyond repair, the state of the world’s oceans and other water bodies are in a despicable state (Shea 27). Long time ago, Rachel Carson talked about the issue of sustainability; sadly, humanity has not adhered to the rules of the game, and, for this reason, fish species have been lost, and oceans are crumbling. However, it is never too late to go back to the drawing board and try to solve these problems for the future generations.
With all the problems and effects pointed out, there is the need for people and governments to come up with lasting solutions to the overfishing menace. It affects everyone, regardless of their involvements in the problem. Collective responsibility is vital for a comprehensive solution to be found (‘State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture: 2016’ 120). Therefore, the local government, together with the citizens, should work hand in hand to solve the problem (Shea 47). Fishing nations, such as Thailand, China, Vietnam, and Chile are most affected, and solutions have been provided to deal with the issue. A good and effective method is through international treaties, such as the United Nations law of the sea (UNCLOS), which clearly explains the aspects of fishing. However, at the local level, local governments should introduce punitive measures and regulations, as a supervisory procedure to deal with the offenders. Regulations should be implemented to ensure that fish stocks are sustained. These include actors, such as the introduction of fishing quota, closed zones, and limits to sizes of nets (Finley 53). Thus, to sustain the interactions between fish and the fishers, there is a need to introduce quotas. Quotas should be used hand in hand with temporary closures to keep off fishing for a while, giving some time for fish to breed and grow. When this is done, the number and diversity of fish will increase, thus solving the issue of overfishing. Quotas are also effective because people will take more responsibility for their actions and allow maximum time for fish to breed before fishing. In fact, to be effective, the government needs to educate people on quotas and the blooming seasons of fish. This will ensure sustainable exploitation.
Additionally, the government should regulate the sizes of nets to ensure that the right size of fish is captured. For example, the nets should be of considerable size to ensure that the smaller fish can escape to the water to ensure they fully develop (Finley 13). It seeks to deal with the problem of bycatch that is the unintentional killing of untargeted fish species. While regulating nets’ size, there is also a need to regulate bags. It is the maximum catch of fish that can be captured. The fishers should not exceed certain limits, and this ensures that there is controlled fishing.
There is also a need to do away with certain fishing techniques, such as bottom trawling and dredging, which scrap off the bottom waters, causing massive fish kills. Instead, there should be techniques that promote sustainability. It will not only limit the destruction of the habitats of fish, but also lead to the achievement of aquatic ecosystem’s integrity.
However, some people will not stick to these rules and regulations, and this is where punishment should come in. There should be the introduction of stringent measures, like imprisonment and heavy fines to deal with the offenders of the law (Finley 13). On the international level, treaties should be effective in ensuring that nations form sustainable policies and laws towards fishing.
The most important and effective solution lies with individuals, with their willingness to understand the impacts that come with overfishing and the overacting consequences on the sustainability of resources (Finley 16). Therefore, people should embark on campaigns that seek to tell friends about the vitality of marinating sustainable fishing. It is only that even government can find it easy to implement the various laws and regulations.
These solutions should be pegged on sustainability issues, advanced by various environmental agencies. It means that when economic prospects of a nation or state dependent on fishing are married with sustainable goals, the result is secure natural resources that will meet the future needs. There is, therefore, the need for the government to come up with laws and regulations to regulate the fishing. Most importantly, people should act as advocates and advise others on the effects of overfishing. It is people’s responsibility to protect the biologic chain of ocean animals.
Overfishing will cause great harm to marine life and to our environment. If the issue is not solved, there are high chances that the consequences are far-reaching. Humanity depends on fish, as a commercial and non-commercial commodity. It means that there are nations like China and Thailand that greatly depend on the fishing industry for most of their economic gains. For a long time now, overfishing has been brushed off due to the increasing concerns for economic gains at the expense of environmental prospects. The main reasons pointed out for the spiral is that economies are seeking to double their profits. These cumulative activities of illegal and unregulated fishing on both local and international waters are lethal with the capability of destroying the entire humanity. It is because a man depends on fish for proteins and the improvement of the economy. The causes have been described as a lack of information, poor and unsustainable fishing techniques and a prevalence of poverty that makes people choose economic gains over environmental conservation.