Humans rely on the ocean for nutritional support by harvesting its ample fish. However, in recent decades, the advent of new technologies has given humans the ability to remove fish from the ocean on such a scale that would suffice to feed the earth’s ever-growing population. Unfortunately, there are many downsides to today’s various fishing practices. Overfishing remains the biggest challenge facing the fishing industry today. Overfishing refers to removing a species of fish from an area at an unsustainable rate so that the fisheries cannot maintain a healthy population, resulting in those species becoming severely depleted, possibly leading to extinction.

For example, the population of the Atlantic codfish was so high in the 17th century that it drove the economies of many nations, fed millions, and provided immense support to many large fisheries. Many people relied on cod fishing for a living at the time, and it had become an important part of the economy of New England and Massachusetts. The US government quickly realized the massive economic benefits of cod fishing, prompting US President John Adams to lobby and ensure that the British government gave US fishermen access to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada, which was the largest global cod fishery.

Fast forward to the 1960s, when the advent of technologies like sonar, radar, and radio-frequency identification allowed anglers to fish deeper for codfish and catch them in larger numbers. Over the next few years, cod landings began to surge; however, by the 1990s, they experienced a dramatic plummet. Cod biomass had decreased by more than 99 percent on the Grand Banks and other Newfoundland fisheries. As a result, cod numbers dropped so low that the Canadian government enacted a temporary cod fishing prohibition to recover stocks. The United States also has restrictions on cod fishing. They limited the number of times people could fish and the number of cod they could catch.

The second major problem associated with fishing is its negative impact on the aquatic habitat. Fishing methods such as bottom trawling and blast fishing significantly damage the marine habitat. The bottom trawling method involves dragging large, weighted nets across the seafloor, destroying a large portion of the habitat in the process. A bottom trawl comprises a large net with a broad mouth and a small, enclosed end. The mouth of a trawl has two heavy doors that keep the net open and ensure it stays on the seafloor. The net is dragged through the ocean floor, destroying any living habitats in its way. The damage is expected to take centuries to heal.

Like bottom trawling, blast fishing, commonly employed in tropical regions, harms the marine habitat. Blast fishing involves lighting sticks of dynamite and throwing them into the river. The blast could incapacitate nearby fish and make them float to the surface of the water for easy capture. The practice can be lucrative for anglers, allowing them to capture many fish from one explosion. However, it destroys coral reefs, which are reproductive habitats that serve as nurseries for various species. The destruction of such a significant developmental habitat usually leads to the rapid decline of many fish species.

By Sebastian Wyczawski



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Sebastian Wyczawski

Sebastian Wyczawski

Throughout a financial services career spanning 22 years, Sebastian Wyczawski has brokered deals of more than $100 million on behalf of clients.