Everything You Need To Know About The Environmental Impact Of Overfishing

Overfishing is not something that we think about often but for anyone who has made the change or is considering the impact of their food choices on the planet; the fishing industry is a point of concern.

This is because we have more access to information regarding climate change and we are learning of the harsh realities of certain industries and companies that work to exploit the earth and our future. With Netflix releasing a range of documentaries with a focus on the state of our oceans like Seaspriacy, A Plastic Ocean and Chasing Coral, we know the important role we play in conservation and protection.

When it comes to the fishing industry, sadly, the direction it is going in is nothing but environmentally destructive. Our demand for seafood and certain fish species has led to what is now referred to as 'Overfishing' and the increase in growth for this sector is not slowing down.

Environmental impacts of Overfishing

Overfishing is defined as the practice of taking fish from the sea at rates too high for species to replace themselves. Practices of overfishing could lead to species extinction and, therefore, a complete alteration of their habitats.

The leading cause of overfishing are the techniques used in the fishing industry, such as bottom trawling and drift net fisheries. These techniques usually capture not only the target species but also many other sea animals. These non-target animals caught alongside the fish are known as bycatch.

Overfishing is the primary threat to the ocean’s biodiversity!

“A third of commercial fish stocks are being harvested at biologically unsustainable levels and 90 percent are fully exploited, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The population of Pacific bluefin tuna, for instance, has plunged 97 percent from historic levels due to rampant overfishing of one of the ocean’s most ecologically and economically valuable top predators”.

The National Geographic 2019

The Fishing Industry

Perhaps not everybody knows, but the ocean covers 71% of the earth's surface. Fish are consumed in every region of the world.

The fishing industry has expanded enormously in the last century, and illegal fishing practices are not the exception. In many cases, consumers can’t know whether the fish they buy comes from legal or illegal practices.

Furthermore, commercial fleets are going far deeper down the food chain for viable catches due to a decrease in certain species. This is known by the term fishing down the food web and it is causing a chain reaction that is leading to further distress of the oceans biologic systems.

Overfishing leads to species extinction. Those that cannot reproduce due to the high fishing rates of this industry eventually disappear or become severely threatened. In addition to this, 40% of the animals that are caught from the ocean are non-target species. This means that they end up back in the sea dead or injured and left to die.

"The number of overfished stocks globally has tripled in half a century and today fully one-third of the world's assessed fisheries are currently pushed beyond their biological limits"