Friday, January 15, 2010

Sustainable Fisheries: Overfishing of big Marine Fishes


By Oluwaseun Owosekun

The depletion of big marine fishes is one problem that started with the over-fishing in the oceans for human consumption. These fishes are being harvested to the point of extinction. According to the World Wildlife Federation (2008), there are many contributing factors to the depletion of these big fishes. For starters, the number of fishing fleets on the world’s oceans is more than double what the oceans can sustain. According to a published report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 95% of the world’s big marine fishes are either overexploited or depleted resulting in the complete collapse of ecosystems (Overfishing – A Global Disaster, 2007). The WWF also stated that technological advances, disregard for fishing laws, lack of good fishing management, and unfair fishing agreements greatly contributed to the reduction in the number of big marine fishes. Scientists such as Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia stated in an article published on www.cnn.com that there is nowhere on earth that has not been over-fished. Environmentalists want the fishing of large marine fishes to stop completely in order for the number of fishes to recover. However, the fishing industry disagrees because they simply do not believe that the oceans can run out of fishes. My management and sustainment plan to revive the depleted species of large fishes in the world oceans is to get quota law passed that will put a limit on the number of fishes that can be harvested from the ocean. I will also work to create programs that will subsidize commercial fishermen to prevent economic hardship them and their families. The first plan to create a quota on the fishing industries will have to be a worldwide agreement; therefore the United Nations will need to get involved in creating the laws and regulations. I will need to present the problem to the United Nations backed with facts. Then find ways to get the governments of major fishing countries to agree to put a quota on their fishing industries. The presentation will also include a proposal to help the fishermen who will be hurt by the cut back on fishing by subsidizing their losses. In order to qualify for the subsidies, the fishermen will have to prove that the quota set by the governments will gravely affect their livelihood. The governments of the countries involved in setting this quota will also have to make sure the rules are enforced properly. I believe my plan will be met both positively and negatively. The environmentalists will not be completely happy with my solution, but will view it as progress. This is because environmentalists want the fishing of large marine fishes to stop completely in order for the number of fishes to recover.

Other problems that have resulted from fishermen’s techniques for catching fish besides declining fish stock are bycatch and habitat destruction. Referencing chapter 11 (p.276) of Visualizing Environmental Science, bycatch is described as “the fishes, marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals caught unintentionally in a commercial fishing catch”. This is a problem because, over time, the effects of bycatch will start to affect the population of these other unintentionally killed animals. In addition to bycatch, habitat destruction is another problem created because of overfishing. Habitat destruction occurs when fishing boats, or vessels drag their fishing equipments along the ocean floor resulting in the destruction of marine habitats. My plans will significantly affect the fishing community. If restrictions are imposed on the number of large fishes, the income of many in the fishing industries will be lost. The industrial fishing companies will have to lay off workers or shut down operations completely because it is not profitable with the amount of fishes they are allowed to catch. Many people might have to look for other kinds of jobs or leave the community in search of better lives. However, with government subsidies, there might not be as big an effect as there might have been without it.

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References:
Berg, L. R., & Hager, M. C. (2007). Visualizing environmental science. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Overfishing – A Global Disaster (2007).

Walton, Marsha (2003). Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain. http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/05/14/coolsc.disappearingfish

World Wildlife Federation (2008). Problems: Poorly Managed Fishing. http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/marine/problems/problems_fishing/index.cfm

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