Overfishing: Our Slow Sayonara to Seafood

Jun 03 2011

Written by Matt Branham

When you sit down to a nice, warm cooked meal, do you ever ask yourself how it got there? As you incessantly order more and more rounds of spicy tuna rolls to your table until you feel your jaw exhausting itself and your stomach begging you to quit, have you ever wondered exactly where it came from? Don’t be alarmed, not many people do. But these little mysteries have multiplied and thrived over time into the global seafood community’s largest monster: overfishing. And now, we must ask ourselves these questions, or the next round of sushi might not make it to the table. Ok, now be alarmed.

It has been said that the human mind treats a new idea like the human body treats a strange protein, it rejects it. Only now, our largest source of protein needs a new idea. Overfishing has become such a swelling problem in our lifetime that it requires urgent attention, sustainable ideas, with the help of individual education, proaction and government support.

Overfishing, in plain terms, is the catching and consumption of fish at a rate faster than they can reproduce, which over our lifetime, has greatly reduced the fish population. Currently, three quarters of the world’s fish stock has been killed at a rate too alarming for the fish population to keep up. And larger fish, such as halibut, tuna, swordfish and other seafood delicacies, have vanished up to 90%. If this were to continue, seafood will be depleted within 40 years, which many of us have the life span to bear witness to.

Large fishing vessels trawl the ocean floor, casting their nets deep into the seabed in order to make a bigger catch, only to decimate the ocean floor and discard up to 25% of their catch, amounting in millions of tons of sea life discarded annually.

Although things seem bleak, there are solutions, ways to restore our ocean life, and it all depends heavily on educating individuals to make better decisions when it comes to seafood and getting government supported control of our waters.

The government has the ability to play such a large role, not only with the halting of overfishing, but also the ability to create jobs worldly. Roughly 1% of the oceans are protected right now, and obviously ineffectively. Government needs to step in and limit fishing subsidies, establish and enforce Marine Protected Areas and keep a closer eye on fishing trade.

It will cost nearly $12 billion to meet the 2012 goal to protect 25-30% of the ocean from overfishing, but it is up to the government to make these changes, and thus, up to individuals to get the government involved. The increased protection would, however, result in more than a million jobs worldwide, which would only help to fix yet another problem that needs strict attention.

We, as individuals, have the capacity to change these conditions by making choices that don’t encourage unregulated fishing. By changing what we buy and consume, we are regulating on a smaller, but necessary, scale. As we reach for these new methods, education and awareness will need to play key roles first and foremost in an effort to slow down the quickly rolling monster that is overfishing.

Just as we are learning about effectively greener ways to live our lives by finding alternative sources for gasoline, people need to evolve further and educate themselves about the right and wrong choices when it comes to their seafood. We have slowly become more of paperless society in order to save tree life, and just the same, we must become more conscious about saving sea life.

Look at every living thing as an important piece of creation, the world we have grown to know and love. See a destitute world underwater crying out for help and respond as a responsible piece of that same creation. Remember that we are responsible to make the change that we hope to see.

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