Global Fishing and its Impact on the Environment Essay
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The demand of fish in the international market has been increasing in the last few years. This is because many researches on nutrition have revealed that consuming fish is one of the best healthy practices. Fish does not have a lot of fats and bad cholesterol and it is a good source of vitamins and natural nutrients. This paper is about the trends of fishing in the global arena and its impact on the environment. The paper will concern recreational and commercial both types of fishing and the problems they are causing to the marine environment.
The current state of global fisheries, aquaculture and the environmental cost of fishing will be the main subjects of interest in this paper. Although many countries have started efforts to develop practices of sustainable fishing through developing the idea of fish farms, however, the main threat to the environment is recreational fishing. The impacts on the marine life itself and the fish population will be discussed in the paper.
Current State of Global Fisheries There was a steady rise in fishing, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, until the mid 1990s when the trend became stable.
In 2001, a study showed that the marine catch has been declining at a rate of 10% each year since the late 1980s. There have also been estimations that around 50% of the world’s fish reserves have been fully exploited, around 20% are overexploited and another 10% are depleted because of overfishing. The histogram graph below shows the increasing share of aqua culture in the total fishing, however, the largest share of the total fish catch is still for the fish being captured from free waters. Southeast Pacific regions contribute the most to the catch of fish globally.
The fish that have been captured the most are anchovy and Chilean jack mackerel (Hart & Reynolds, 2004). Figure 1- (Hart & Reynolds, 2004) The research has also shown that almost 80% of the total fish captured was used for direct human consumption while other 20% went for further processing for non-consumption production. In the year 1997, the per capita consumption of fish has increased in the past 50 years from 9 kg per person to around 16 kg per person each year. This was the data for underdeveloped countries; however, the consumption in the developed countries has risen from 20kg to almost 28kg per capita per year.
In the underdeveloped countries, the protein intake from the consumption of fish can form 20% of the total intake. In the developed countries and in the Southeastern Asian countries, the consumption is much higher (Hart & Reynolds, 2004). The top ten countries which are the largest catchers of the total fish catches include China, Japan, India, United States, Russia and Indonesia. However, China is the largest catcher of fish as the total amount stands to around 12 million tons of fish (FAOSTAT online database, 2010). The demand of fish is stable at the moment but as the population rises, the demand for fish will also rise.
It has been revealed that the people in the developed countries are more prone to eating fish as their per capita consumption is higher than people living in underdeveloped countries. Another point of concern is that the population is rising at a very high rate in countries such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Middle-East where the catch of the fish is also the highest. Figure 2 Impact of Global Fishing on the Environment Today, the exploitation of the fishery resources and reserves has become a major environmental factor of concern for the scientists and environmentalists.
The worldwide declines in the population of fish species have been blamed to the excessive commercial fishing and unrestrictive recreational fishing. A recent study has revealed that the total fish harvest from recreational activities may contribute up to almost 12% of the total catch of fish globally (Cooke, Steven, & Cowx, 2004). Fish has been one of the most important food consumption resources that are at risk because of limitless recreational activities and commercial fishing. The potential contribution of fishing to the marine environment and the ecological system of the world has caused many problems in the environment already.
Currently, the fish production is meeting the requirements of the population in the countries, but at a great environmental cost. The marine life is not only being endangered by the fishers but their breeding grounds have also been invaded by the commercial companies. These breeding grounds are the safe places for the fish. Though the fish are being bred in huge numbers, but their homes are being destroyed which does not allow the fish to be born. Although a fish can give birth to hundreds of its offspring in one season, but if these offspring are dead before they are born, then the ecological system in the waters is seriously disturbed.
According to a research, the increasing pressure of fishing and exploitation of resources in marine life has caused a change in the ecological structure and the ecosystem. The fully developed fish and adult members of the fish are more fondly searched by the commercial and individuals as they render more profits and meat for the production. Therefore the adult population which is responsible for breeding and generating offspring are in great danger by the human activities in the seas. Climate change has also been attributed to the changes in the ecosystem which affect the marine life and decrease their population.
In the future, therefore, the fish population, available for human consumption, is anticipated to fall and cause demand supply problems. The primary reasons for this are the attack of the humans on the marine life for consumption, recreational activities of the human individuals and the change in the global climate which is changing the living habitat of these fish (Planque, 2010). Aquaculture Production The term aquaculture is used for the farming of the fish and other marine species including aquatic plants, crustaceans and mollusks in an artificial environment which is fit for their breeding.
This is done in order to protect the species of the fish which are getting extinct or for sustainable farming of fish. This practice is very good for the sustainability of the fish in free water as they are not hunted in their breeding grounds. When grown and fully ready, these fish are harvested by a company or an individual who has owned them throughout the period of growth and development (European Commission, 2007). This practice is the only option for meeting the demand of the human for fish consumption. Fishing for recreation has proved to be disastrous for the marine life and the water environment.
The whole ecological system is disturbed because of excessive fishing. Aquaculture is mostly being performed for the human consumption but does not addresses the issue of recreational fishing. Aquaculture is also used to presence the dying species by providing the required temperature, environment and food for their existence. Many of these fish could be released in to the wild waters so that they could be used in the recreational activities (Stickney, 2009). Conclusion In order to keep the demand consistent with the supply for fish in the global market, the practice of aquaculture will have to be adopted.
The main issues that the fish face are the recreational activities of the human, commercial overexploitation and the change in climate of the world. These problems are changing their habitat environment and hence these fish are getting endangered. However, we should keep in mind that all of the fish species are not being caught for human consumption. Hence, aquaculture will not be able to address this issue. Other strict rules and regulation will have to be implemented by the governments in order to stop the recreational killing of fish. Only the hunting of those fish should be allowed which are abundant in the waters.
Aquaculture could be used to breed those fish which are primarily used for the consumption of human through providing an artificial environment where the fish can grow up in a protected way. Bibliography Cooke, Steven, & Cowx, I. (2004). The Role of Recreational Fishing in Global Fish Crises. BioScience , 54 (9), 857-59. European Commission. (2007). Eurostat. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from Eurostat Pocketbook: http://epp. eurostat. ec. europa. eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-DW-07-001/EN/KS-DW-07-001-EN. PDF European Commission. (2009, September). Eurostat. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from Fishery Statistics: http://epp.
eurostat. ec. europa. eu/statistics_explained/index. php/Fishery_statistics FAOSTAT online database. (2010). NationMaster. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from Environmental Statistics: http://www. nationmaster. com/graph/env_mar_fis_cat-environment-marine-fish-catch Hart, P. , & Reynolds, J. (2004). Handbook of fish biology and fisheries. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing company. Planque, B. (2010). How does fishing alter marine populations and ecosystems sensitivity to climate? Journal of Marine Systems , 403-417. Stickney, R. (2009). Aquaculture an introductory text. Oxfordshire: Cambridge University Press.