Humans run their daily errands oblivious to the severe genocide occurring past the shoreline. Seafood is healthy, delicious and seemingly endless, but is it? People naturally have a belief in unlimited resources engrained into their DNA, but scientific research reveals the world catch has risen to extreme risk levels for many species. Over-fishing is rampant world-wide and the habitual lack of enforcing proper quotas and restrictions will transform oceans once teaming with life to a barren and uninhabited wasteland.
The industrial era exposed various environmental problems addressed accordingly. Recycling morphed into a customary activity. The automobile industry fine-tuned their exhaust methods to curtail carbon emissions and global warming. Corporations shell out millions to reduce pollution. However, the increasing threat of the extinction in the oceans flies relatively under the radar. Current fishing practices incorporate advanced technology to create the most efficient vessels ever built. The fish have no chance. The demand will climb as populations soar. Unless there is an inconceivable end to man’s thirst for wealth and greed, major reforms must occur immediately or fish will vanish forever.
For years the problem lay hidden beneath the surface of the vast oceans. Numbers were forged to conceal the exponential increase of fish caught and the diminishing population levels below the safe threshold. China produced phony numbers for many years to disguise the plethora of fish caught for their titanic sushi industry. Once authentic data appeared, the issue became reality and the scientific community chaotically tested the waters to fully comprehend the problem. As expected, the alarming numbers were reported, shaking scientific foundations world-wide.
Scientists regularly find discouraging statistics. Around 75% of the planet’s marine resources are fully exploited or in decline. Statistics show a 90% decrease in fish stocks, thus a mere 10% of large game and groundfish remain. In 1950, a meager 18.7 million tons of fish were caught. In 2000, an overwhelming 95.5 million tons were caught. The journal Science predicted that with current trends the world will run out of wild-caught seafood by 2048.
The first major fish shortage appeared in Newfoundland, Canada. The region once teeming with marine life would change forever. Cod fish were once said to be so endless and bountiful that one could stroll across the water on their backs. In 1992, a moratorium was instituted on cod fishing and forty thousand fishermen instantly lost their jobs. What had once been the most abundant cod population in the world had been fished out of existence.
The world’s philosophy needs a complete overhaul. People everywhere view the vast oceans as inexhaustible. However, new laws must be established to protect fish from the greatest and most efficient predators in history. Humans have developed fishing processes where more than necessary are caught and killed. Global fishing capacity could catch the current world catch total four times over. The world’s long lining industry sets 1.4 billion hooks every year. The line alone would encircle the globe more than 450 times.
Experts globally agree the pinnacle of negative fishing practices is bottom trolling. Trolling is simply dragging a gigantic, heavy and vile net slowly across the sea floor. Around thirteen 747 jets could fit in the largest trolling nets. Trolling mimics taking a colossal cheese grater over the sea floor, shattering countless ecosystems that never recover. Marine species rely heavily on their habitat, which once destroyed result in mortality. Trolling also gathers numerous unwanted fish that casually are killed and discarded. Bottom trolling is the frontline of pressing change necessary to stabilize fish populations.
The tuna industry has fished the iconic blue fin tuna into critical danger of extinction. Elite sushi restaurants everywhere desire the blue fin’s expensive and delicious meat. An underground market for this rare entity has assembled to bypass quotas. Scientists recommend a quota of 15,000 tonnes a year and 10,000 for a full recovery. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) quota is currently 30,000 tonnes. Researchers estimate the fishermen ignore the quota and catch around 61,000 tonnes a year, one-third of the entire population. Fishermen utilize planes to spot the tuna shoals, an enterprise outlawed by the European Union. However, the Italian government’s nonchalant attitude towards the law has permitted this massacre in the Mediterranean for years.
The Chesapeake Bay provides an excellent example of the negative consequences endured from tampering with an ecosystem. The Cownose Ray population has exploded. Their main predator, the Hammerhead Shark, has approached complete annihilation in the bay and the coast. Elsewhere, the oceans overflow with algae, plankton, worms and jellyfish. As large fish are exterminated, the smaller inhabitants are erupting and ecosystems are continuously being thrown off-balance.
What can our generation do to halt the marine genocide? Evaluate Alaskan policies. Alaska implements a time limit on fishermen to achieve their quota. Alaska also restricts the number of vessels vastly below the catch limit permissible for a healthy ecosystem. Planes regulate the fishing boats from the sky and foreign vessels are outlawed. These fishermen believe in catching fish in the future, rather than the present. Future economic benefits will develop if fish are granted recovery time.
Marine reserves are areas of the world’s oceans where commercial fishing is completely banned. The results are staggering. A large reserve in the Bahamas has been launched and struggling coral reefs are revitalized and thriving. Various other locations reveal similar results. Currently 99% of the oceans may be fished. The expansion of the reserve theory will undoubtedly repopulate the ocean.
When we fully comprehend the dynamics of a problem, history has shown our conscience inspires radical and positive change. Politicians need to act responsibly in decision-making, consumers can alter their eating habits, and the fishing industry must obey rules and reduce their capacity. When the next generation asks where the fish went, how will we answer? What will the Discovery channel do without shark week? Will aquariums turn into museums? Will Salmon, Mahi-Mahi, Halibut and other delectable items remain on menus? No one wants these questions to be posed, but without immediate change, they are inevitable.