Overfishing is a serious threat to the survival of countless marine animal species. Highly sophisticated and aggressive commercial fishing methods such as radar, long line fishing, bottom trawling, and the usage of purse seine nets frequently devastate large areas of the ocean by removing far more fish than was intended.
By Aisling Maria Cronin | One Green Planet
Earlier this year, a study published in the Nature Communications Journal revealed that fish catch levels around the world have been, on average, 50 percent higher than the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s previous estimates. The study also found that catch levels have been strongly declining since the 1990s, “due to countries fishing too much and having exhausted one fish after the other.”
Untargeted marine animal species, such as sharks, small whales, dolphins, and rays – despite not being the intended catch species – frequently end up entangled in commercial fishing trawlers’ nets as “bycatch” and usually face death as a result. An estimated 40 percent of a typical fishing fleet’s catch is made up of these animals, while 80 percent of the oceans’ fish stocks are fully- or over-exploited. For example, sharks – who could play a vital role in curbing the phenomenon of climate change – are at grave risk of extinction. Oceanic conservation group Sea Shepherd has estimated that every year, “50,000,000 sharks are caught unintentionally as bycatch by commercial tuna and swordfish fisheries using long lines, nets, purse seine, and gillnets.” Many conservation experts believe that our oceans could be empty of fish by the year 2025.