Humans are consuming seafood at a level that cannot be maintained. If the fishing industry collapses, not only will many people lose their livelihoods, but millions will lose their main source of protein. Since 1990, global total fish consumption has increased by 122%.
This places a massive burden on the fishing industry, a job market and food source that billions of people rely on. Overfishing is also a grave threat to marine life and the number of endangered species is getting bigger every year. As more and more species are threatened, the oceans’ fish populations will become increasingly sparse.
Why is overfishing so common?
With greater technological advances, fishermen and hatcheries can harvest more fish annually than ever before. Also, as global incomes rise and people learn about the health benefits of eating fish, the demand for seafood has risen. Unsustainable harvesting practices are meeting this demand to an excess.
Globally, 156 tonnes of seafood are available for human consumption. However, much goes to waste. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that at least 47% (2.3 billion pounds) of harvested seafood is discarded. By supporting more sustainable seafood consumption practices, this loss can be minimized.
For example, fish caught by hook-and-line or spear fishing have a lower impact on the environment. Purchasing seafood from producers that use sustainable practices is an easy way to reduce the harmful effects of overfishing on people who rely on seafood for food and economic benefits..
The current combination of excess harvesting and waste will eventually lead to the collapse of the fishing industry while causing irreparable damage to marine ecosystems. One of the most wasteful fishing practices is shark harvesting. It is estimated that over 100 million sharks are killed annually for just their fins, which account for only 1-5% of their body mass.
Around three billion people worldwide depend on fish as their main source of protein. The fishing industry is a critical part to the economy and many people’s survival. Furthermore, fish have one of the smallest impacts on their natural environment. If this food source is lost, people will be forced to turn to other, less sustainable sources, only adding to the climate crisis.