Overfishing and Bycatch on the Oceans
Only a few species of salt water fish come from a fish farming. Most of the salt water fish are still caught directly on the seas. With the increasing population and their strong demand for cheap meat, the states are moving their fishing to ever more distant regions. With the daily laid out fishing nets from fishing fleets you could span the earth forty times. As more fish get caught as they can reproduce themselves the only thing that remains there is a big emptiness.
Drift nets or trawls up to sixty kilometers (37 miles) long are being pulled through the sea by commercial industrial fishing fleets. These nets catch everything that’s around, if usable or not. All non usable life is called as bycatch and get thrown back in the water – no matter if injured or dead. Each year up to 39 million tons of bycatch are thrown back from fishing vessels into the sea dead and unused (including 300’000 whales and dolphins as well as more than 340’000 seals). Not only unusable fish species but also turtles, dolphins, sharks and even sperm whales find their death in those nets.
Just in the Mediterranean Sea approximately 600 Italian ships catch sword fish with drift nets with an average length of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) each. All in a row you could stretch them twice from Gibraltar to Beirut. The bycatch is extremely high: Only 18 percent of the caught animals are sword fish, the rest are other kind of fish – for instance more than 8’000 dolphins which remain dead in the sea each year.
Bottom trawl nets are used to catch bottom fish such as plaice, sole, shrimp and other crustaceans that live on the ocean floor. Huge amounts of CO2 are also naturally stored in the seabed. Bottom trawl nets are dragged across the sea floor in water depths of 100 to 2000 meters and destroy pretty much everything that lives there.
Bottom trawling is the most destructive legal fishing method, with bycatch rates of up to 90 percent and the loss of tons of dolly ropes (red or blue polyethylene scouring lines). When fishing with bottom trawls, the entire seabed is stirred up and the CO2 contained there can escape. This type of fishing releases more CO2 every year than the worldwide civil and military air traffic combined.
In longline fishing, a synthetic fishing line with a length of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) is laid out and is buoyed by plastic floats close to the surface. The line is assembled with thousands of hooks baited with squid, fish or in some cases even with fresh dolphin meat. The baits attract among others also sharks, dolphins, turtles, albatross and other marine birds which get hooked and die when they try to eat the bait.
Every year just along the African Atlantic Coast more than seven million sharks and rays die by longline fishing as bycatch. Also more than 34’000 birds and more than 4’000 turtles die every single year only along this coast line. Worldwide more than 100’000 Albatross die each year just because of the longline fishing. The bycatch of commercial longline fishing for tunas can reach more than 90 percent. They catch for example 4-5 times more sharks than tunas.
Today’s commercially industrialized fisheries not only unnecessarily kill many fish but also directly contribute to the extermination of fish populations.
The behavior of the fishing fleets is comparable to a farmer who doesn’t climb on the tree to pick the apples but cut down the whole tree to get the fruits.
According to Yaqu Pacha and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums by the year 2048 the life in our oceans will be close to a total breakdown due to overfishing, killed bycatch and the chemicals, plastic and waste that get thrown into the sea. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO more than 70 percent of the fish existence are already overfished. Too many technically upgraded fishing ships on the oceans are in competition with too little fish. Most of the fish don’t get old enough to reproduce themselves any longer.
No remedy can be expected from either governments or fisheries associations. Everyone must be aware that any consumption of fish is a direct reordering with the fishmonger, because the demand finally determines the supply. In other words: As long as fish is consumed, the fishing industry will continue to catch, kill and deliver fish – mercilessly until the oceans are empty!
Find more information about Overfishing, Conservation, Sustainability and Farmed Fish here.