The Overfishing Epidemic Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1898 Words
Date:  2022-05-17

One of the readily available sources of proteins for all people worldwide is fish. It is estimated that fish supplies proteins to over 950 million people globally every day. It forms a basic and a traditional meal for some communities especially those around lakes and coastal areas. Fishing activity is the primary income generating activity for fisheries worldwide, and according to conclusive studies, it provides a livelihood for over 200million people worldwide, either directly or indirectly. Fish caught from lakes and oceans also form a major part of foreign income for some countries worldwide. According to conservative estimations, the fish caught in developing countries find their way into the international trade market. According to recent research done by the United Nations Environment Programme, the modern technology and expansive fishing over the past few decades has been attributed to the general decline of fish population and endangerment of some fish species. According to research, the fishing industry had been growing constantly until the 21st century which witnessed a sudden drop in fishing activity. This was attributed to the fact that the population of the fish to catch was becoming lower as time went by. As a result, the fishing industry has cut well over 100000 jobs worldwide due to declining activities (Butterworth, & Nordquist). The implication of all these is that the economy has been affected for most countries. The prices of fish have also soared globally owing to the decline in the fish population and the very high demand for fish by consumers. Overfishing has gone from being a less known activity in the 20th century to be one of the most areas of concern as with regards to environmental conservation. The fact that most fishing grounds worldwide are open opportunities for everyone, and the fact that the fish population has diminished significantly worldwide, the fishermen, driven by stiff competition, have resorted to a very punitive overfishing practice with total disregards for the future. The overfishing tragedy must be addressed by the relevant authorities as soon as possible to avert a potential crisis of lack of fish in future. This essay is going to highlight some of the causes and implications of overfishing and ways in which it can be combated.

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Overfishing causes the decline of the fish population worldwide and also pauses the threat of extinction for some rare fish species. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, overfishing is defined as trapping an excessive number of fish to enable profitable fishing. Overfishing takes effect whenever the population of fish in a particular area of a lake, ocean or sea has gone below the recommended levels. Overfishing poses a grave danger to the survival of fish in that they lose the ability to breed continuously (Williams &Nigel.1998,809). Overfishing entails catching even the smallest fingerlings. The mature fish are often caught before they have time to lay eggs and reproduce. The fish also depends on seaweeds and some other sea creatures for food. Overfishing catches some of these sea creatures leading to the decline of fish food. As a result, the fish which escape the fisherman's net end up dying of starvation. The underpopulation and extinction of species of the fish worldwide is a direct result of overfishing.

There are also some economic impacts of overfishing. Overfishing is the main source of the declining fish production by the fishing industry. The fact that the overfishing epidemic does not allow the fish population to revitalize means that as years go by, a small population of fish will be left to catch. This means that the fishing industry is becoming more and more unprofitable. Since millions of people worldwide find employment, either directly or indirectly in the fishing industry, they are likely to lose their jobs as time goes by. This is going to cause an unemployment crisis in most countries. Thousands of people are likely to suffer from effects of the collapsing fishing industry.

Another effect of overfishing is the destabilization of the natural ecosystem. According to a study conducted by the National Geographic documentary news, the population of shark has declined to alarming levels.The fish usually recovers from the effects of overfishing depending on the ability of the ecosystem to revitalize the fish population. The overfishing of sharks for example, which is a primary predator for some sea animals and fish has led to the destabilization of the sea ecosystem. Shark fish are easy to catch due to their large sizes. The decline of sharks has resulted in the corresponding increase in the population of the prey, which is normally some specific types of fish (Helen Scales,2007). The increase in the prey means that there is going to be a competition for common food with other fish species. This upsets the whole sea ecosystem. As a result, the ecosystem is not able to wholly support the sea animal population. The corresponding effect is the extinction of some sea animals due to stiff competition for food.

Overfishing has led to environmental degradation, especially in coastal sea areas. Most of the cities that developed due fishing are located in coastal areas. In the latter part of the 20th century, it was estimated that up to 50% of the world population stayed in coastal cities, and around fishing grounds. This number is projected to keep on rising. The fact that a larger part of the world's population resides along coastal fishing areas means that there is a lot of waste generated and dumped at sea. A large number of fishing expeditions done daily, adding up to a few hundred thousand daily using petrol and diesel driven engine ships means that there is heavy pollution of the environment every day. These fishing ships release al of greenhouse gases to the environment every day. They are also responsible for the leakage of oil in the sea. Oil leaks have been linked to some of the most brutal death of sea organisms including birds (Robbins & William,2006,15). The fact that overfishing is unregulated and also that there are no ownership rights for most in most fishing grounds in the world has often led to conflicts between countries and fishing parties (Cruz & Wilfrido, 1986,5). One such crisis is the activities surrounding the South China Sea where a lot of conflicts has occurred between neighboring coastal countries. The south china sea has a rich population of fish to which various fishing parties have been competing to exploit. There are some causes leading to overfishing.

One of the leading cause of overfishing, as reported by credible studies, is that the fishing industry is the only global enterprise that is not closely monitored and there is often open access to fishing grounds by anybody without any restriction. According to a 2003 report, the number of fishers worldwide has tripled in the last 50 years, and this number is even projected to rise further in future (De Fontaubert, Charlotte & Indrani,2003,1). The fact that our society today is largely the easy catch of fish has lured capitalist people without any restrictions in worlds fishing grounds. People, therefore, have resorted to plundering the fish population without caring for the future of both the fish population and also the fishing industry. There is also another problem that is fueling fishing, especially in developing countries.

The main reason behind heavy overfishing in developing countries is inadequate income generating incentives. This is caused by factors such as poor economic conditions that the developing countries are grappling with. As a result, most people resort to the fishing industry which employs a large number of people. According to a World Bank report, it is estimated that governments worldwide give out subsidies amounting to over 18 billion dollars every year to the fishing industry. These subsidies are meant to expand the fishing industry which will then proved employment to more people. This is a hugely miscalculated step by most governments in that it leads to massive expansion fishing abilities hence giving the best conditions for overfishing to occur.

Advances in technology are also one of the leading reason fueling overfishing (Bailey & David,2000,54). The development of sophisticated fishing equipment and ships that employ some of the most complex technologies to track fish has led to overfishing. The modern ships have capabilities such as using sonar pulses to track shoals of fish in water bodies. These ships also can venture very deep into the sea, and this is one of the reasons why the fish population has been declining across all water bodies. The modern fishing nets are also so complex to lure and catch all sizes of fish. Developing countries have acquired some of the modern fishing technologies, and this explains why there is a growing rampant and punitive overfishing in these countries. The aquatic life is facing a real threat form advances in technology. Other technologies used to conduct fishing involve the use of toxic and explosive chemical substances. The other threat that is posed by modern technology in fishing is catching of unwanted fish species. These fish may not be edible or marketable. They are thus discarded while the more quality wanted fish are kept. Research indicates that the amount of these unwanted fish species dumped annually amount to over 21million tons annually. There various ways to combat overfishing. There is hope if measures are taken to fight punitive fishing expeditions that catch-all fishes alike, big and small, leading to destruction.

One way that can be used to combat overfishing is strictly enforcing policies and laws that outline fishing ground ownership rights and quotas and also indicate specific areas which fishing is banned. The laws that govern fishing grounds in most countries are already in place. The main issues are that respective authorities do not enforce them (Porter,1998,13). People have often exploited this loophole to engage in prohibited fishing activities. The negligence of governments, which is more pronounced in developing countries is what has led to rampant exploitation of fishing opportunities and the reduction in the population of fish species. It is time that the governments take responsibility for enforcing policies. The appropriate law-making bodies should also come up with new strategies to protect certain fish species. For example, fish that is endangered in a particular fishing locale should be given a sanctuary. This will entail coming up with policies to outlaw fishing in some areas of the sea and enforcing them strictly.

Third world countries have one of the greatest roles to play in combating overfishing. Innate economic problems mainly cause the emerging trends in overfishing in developing countries. Poverty and unemployment id what is driving people to resort to unwarranted fishing activities. The governments in these developing countries should provide alternative employment incentives to their citizens, especially those residing around large lakes and along coastal areas. Empowering people by affording them education will also help in helping to reduce the number of unemployed people. The third world countries should also come up with suitable workshops that train people on the importance of conserving aquatic life.


Furthermore, it is time for the world to come together since overfishing is an international problem. Individual governments will never succeed in trying to combat overfishing single-handedly. It is time that all the countries in the world collaborated together to enforce fishing policies. Currently, many nations have come to a consensus on how to minimize the severity of the overfishing problem. Currently, an international plan of action exists. However, the...

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