Overfishing is a major issue plaguing our oceans today. According to the World Wildlife Fund, overfishing is one of the biggest threats to the health of marine life, and as fresh fish is a major food source for many developing countries, this practice directly affects human populations as well. Thankfully though, there is much that we can all do in our day-to-day lives that can help our global fish stocks flourish. If we all commit to making smarter, more responsible choices when it comes to the seafood we consume, we can make a world of difference to our oceans.
A Trend Towards Empty Oceans
The reasons for our overfished oceans are many, which is why it is such a complex issue. A large chunk of the problem comes from irresponsible fishing methods, whereby a whopping 38.5 million tons of non-targeted species of fish are hauled out of the sea every year, with this so-called bycatch simply thrown out as waste.
But the issue also stems from our growing appetite for fish. Today, people worldwide eat about twice as much fish as they did 50 years ago, a consumer trend that has caused almost 30% of our fish stocks to be overfished and over 60% to be fully fished. Additionally, there is the question of illegal fishing to address, with one study suggesting that between 11 and 26 million tons of fish are caught illegally every year.
These problems could point to disaster for marine life. A study of fisheries in the seas around the U.S. and Europe found that many fish stocks lack older fish due to overfishing, a reality that could have a drastic impact on global fish populations. Older fish tend to be the largest and produce the most offspring, and are better equipped to deal with environmental changes. To lose these older fish means that populations will struggle to replenish themselves quickly enough to survive as a species.
The impacts of overfishing also touch communities around the world that rely on fish as a primary source of food and income. With local stocks overfished, these communities face enormous threats on their continued survival.
But all is not lost! There are many steps that we can all take to ensure we do our part to protect our oceans and the world’s supply of fresh, nutritious fish.
How We Can All Help
Seeking out responsibly sourced seafood is key to helping our oceans. Responsibly farmed fish is a wise choice when purchasing seafood, as these fish are raised according to strict regulations. Farms like Regal Springs ensure that their fish have plenty of room to move and grow, enjoy a healthy diet and are kept separate from native populations.
Furthermore, pay attention to labels when you’re shopping and look for the right logos. Organizations like Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Marine Stewardship Council are committed to certifying only sustainable fish products, so you can feel good about buying fish bearing these labels.
Hearing about the state of our oceans, it can be easy to think that there’s nothing that we as individuals can do to help. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! We all have the power to bring about change, and it is as easy as asking your fishmonger, “where did this fish come from?”
Want to learn more about saving the planet and our oceans? Check out our guide to ways to help the planet thrive.
Photo Credits: Regal Springs