According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, an alarming 70% of the entire world’s fish stock has either been “fully exploited or depleted.” Overfishing is one of the most common environmental problems of the twenty-first century.
Overfishing poses huge global and ecological implications which will inevitably affect each and every member of the human race. There are a lot of glaring incidents in the past where the fish stocks were depleted due to overfishing.
Take for example the anchovy crisis on the Peruvian coastal areas during the 1970s or the sudden collapse of the fisheries in Canada, the West English Channel and the Irish Sea among others.
Despite the cruel effects of the aforementioned incidents, overfishing continues to plague the world’s waters. Although, there are restrictions and legal measures imposed by the world’s governments, overfishing isn’t completely eradicated.
Needless to say, overfishing can ultimately result into far greater consequences including;
1) Reckless overfishing through illicit means can result into a direct damage/contamination of oceans, seas, etc.
Overfishing isn’t the sole ecological issue raised by environmental activists. Overfishing is done through illicit means particularly through dynamite and cyanide fishing and bottom trawling. Obviously, such fishing methods damage the world’s waters.
Dynamite fishing can physically damage the ocean floor while cyanide fishing can contaminate the world’s waters. On the other hand, bottom trawling results into growth overfishing, catching small, undersized fish or “discards” in the process.
2) Long-term physical effects on the ocean ecology – coral reefs, ocean floor, bottom grasses etc.
The mechanical equipment, specifically the large ships and bottom trawling equipment, are bound to physically damage the ocean. Coral reefs and bottom grasses are very much vulnerable to wear and tear caused by the large and bulky equipments used in fishing.
3) Recruit overfishing/spawning biomass may result into a drastic decrease in the fish stocks.
Recruit overfishing or the extreme fishing of the adult population might result into a sudden decrease of the fish population. There is a level where the adult population has been depleted to a point that they no longer have the ability to reproduce on a quick, desirable manner.
4) Food chains – prey-predator relationship will be altered. The ecological balance will be thrown off.
The overfishing of a particular fish species does not only pose a problem to the said species alone. Similarly, it affects and alters the prey-predator relationship. The depletion of small fishes will ultimately result into the depletion of larger fish species.