Overfishing is the act of catching a species of fish at a rate at which they cannot reproduce fast enough to replenish their numbers, and so their population decreases until it reaches a critical point. Overfishing can occur in water bodies of any size, such as ponds, wetlands, rivers, lakes, or oceans, and can result in resource depletion.
The technique that may alone be responsible for most of the overfishing is trawling, which involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats. The net often has weights and when it’s dragged across the seafloor it’s referred to as bottom trawling. The consequences of this technique are the bycatch, i.e., everything unwanted caught in the net that will be thrown overboard and most likely die from injuries or exposure, dolphins, seabirds or sharks are a sound example; and the stirring that happens to the ocean floor, which then leads to loads of other discomforts for marine life, like the devastation of corals, sponges and other slower-growing benthic species that provide a habitat for commercial fisheries species.
A common practice in the Asian seas is the cruel and gruesome “shark finning”. After a shark is caught, his fin is cut off, moreover, to store more fins the rest of the body is thrown away, destined to sink to the bottom of the sea. Fins are the crucial ingredient to make the shark fin soup, which has become a status symbol in India and other Asian countries, despite the crude lack of morals behind this dish.
To lessen the impact on wild fishes and to increase the production of the industry, lately, aquaculture has been developing. Though one day it may become sustainable, for now, there are a bunch of problems with aquaculture. Some carnivorous and omnivorous fishes, like salmon, are fed wild forage fish, thus converting low-quality fishes, into high-quality ones, yet not solving the problem of overfishing. In a way that mirrors the land animals’ industry, farmed fishes are forced to live in an enclosed and tight space, only to build up fat. These issues, which are often brought up in the moral debates behind the principles of commercial fishing, are usually put aside by arguments that claim fishes have not developed a level of consciousness that allows them to act beyond their primal instincts and they may not even be able to feel pain.
Seeing how many problems are caused by overfishing really makes us wonder why there is still no clear legislation to regulate this practice into a more sustainable one, and how we are facing similar issues in other aspects of our planet’s preservation. This should really make us wonder: what can we do to fight overfishing?