UN SDG #14 Life Below Water UN SDG #14
UN SDG #12 Responsible Consumption and Production UN SDG #12

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The Negative Impact of Overfishing

Across all major industrial fishing sectors, overfishing due to overcapacity and lack of compliance in fishery governance has led to a decline in biomass of many global fish stocks. Overfishing threatens ocean biodiversity, global food security, and the livelihoods of law-abiding fishermen. These factors, combined, have a negative effect on the well-being of coastal communities.

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The Negative Impact of Overfishing

Across all major industrial fishing sectors, overfishing due to overcapacity and lack of compliance in fishery governance has led to a decline in biomass of many global fish stocks. Overfishing threatens ocean biodiversity, global food security, and the livelihoods of law-abiding fishermen. These factors, combined, have a negative effect on the well-being of coastal communities.
120M
people impacted
$219.9B
potential funding
the problem
Nature and Context

Overfishing can impact entire ecosystems. It can change the size of fish remaining, as well as how they reproduce and the speed at which they mature. When too many fish are taken out of the ocean it creates an imbalance that can erode the food web and lead to a loss of other important marine life, including vulnerable species like sea turtles and corals (WWF).

Symptoms and Causes

Booming Demand

Demand for fish continues to increase around the world, and that means more businesses and jobs are dependent on dwindling stocks. High demand for seafood continues to drive overexploitation and environmental degradation, exacerbating this circular problem (WWF).

Longer Shifts, Bigger Nets

Boats that can stay out longer in the sea, that are floating factories that can catch and process the fish mean longer bouts at sea collecting. Since the size of their catch has been dwindling over the years, the fishing fleets have resulted to casting out bigger nets. These nets are indiscriminate. For every 1 ton of prawns caught, 3 tons of little fish are caught in the nets and thrown away (The World Counts).

Disappearance of Predators

The whales, sharks, Bluefin tuna, king mackerel, dolphins and marlin are disappearing or have already disappeared. It took us only 55 years to wipe out 90% of the ocean’s predators causing a disruption of the marine ecosystem. After the big fish, commercial fishermen will just go down the food chain, until we’ve depleted everything (The World Counts).

Destruction of Habitat and Bottom Trawling

Coral Reefs which are home to 25% of all marine life are being destroyed. The reefs grow at a rate of 0.3 cm to 10 cm a day. What you see now has been growing for the last 5,000 to 10,000 years. Additionally, bottom trawling is the aquatic equivalent of deforestation. Boats cast huge and heavy nets that are held open by heavy doors weighing several tons each and drag them across the ocean floor. Just imagine the devastation that causes (The World Counts).

the impact
Negative Effects

Reduced Harvests of Targeted Fish
We’re already witnessing this phenomenon, what with the reduced number of fish that is worth consuming being left behind. Overfishing, typically, leads to a decline in the population of productive fish, which results in lesser stocking of the fish. If overfishing is curtailed, we can hope to revive the declining marine population in a few years. Cutting back on fishery activities will make it possible for fish to breed and produce young ones and this cycle would continue until we have a healthy supply of seafood available again (Marine Science Today).

Harvest of Untargeted/Protected/Endangered Marine Species
Harvest of non-targeted fish or bycatch, will give rise to the capturing of sea animals that unintentionally get caught, but are not used or required. These may include endangered or protected species such as certain marine mammals, or other aquatic species of little or no commercial or recreational value. If caught, they are eventually discarded either at the sea or shore (Marine Science Today).

Ecosystem Changes
Overfishing can have an adverse effect on marine biodiversity. Every single aquatic plant and animal has a role to play when it comes to balancing the ecology. In order to thrive, marine creatures require a certain kind of environment and nutrients, for which they may be dependent on other organisms.

Overfishing can wreak havoc and destroy the environment and marine ecology and completely disrupt the food chain. For example, herring is a vital prey species for the cod. Therefore, when herring are overfished the cod population suffers as well. And this has a chain reaction on other species too. For example, seabirds such puffins were dependent on the sandeel for their food around the Shetland Islands. However, with the overfishing of sandeels, the colonies of seabirds nesting around Shetland automatically declined.

Therefore, it can be understood that if the food chain breaks at any level, it will have a domino effect on all living organisms in the chain (Marine Science Today).



Economic Impact

Fish ranks as one of the most highly traded food commodities and fuels a $362 billion global industry. (WWF).

Millions of people rely on fishing for their livelihood and nutritional needs. For decades, oceans have provided us with a bounty of seafood for these needs, but there is a limit to everything. Unsustainable fishing practices and overfishing over the last few decades have pushed our oceans to the limit and they may now be on the verge of a collapse, thereby affecting the everyday way of life and source of income of those who depend on them. With no productive fish left in the sea to fish, fishermen and fisheries are bound to go out of business in no time (Marine Science Today).

Success Metrics
  • By 2048, there will be no more seafood in our oceans if we continue on this path. Reversing our impact is crucial to the future of the oceans, and therefore human life.

  • Limit overfishing practices.

  • Reduce oceanic pollution that is threatening the species we are already depleting.

who benefits from solving this problem
Organization Types
  • Fishing Companies and Fisheries

  • Oceanic Preservation Society

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • Oceana

Stakeholders
  • Fishermen

  • Environmentalists

  • Fish eaters

  • Coastal Towns and Citizens

financial insights
Current Funding
Potential Solution Funding

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) was established to improve the management and protection of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems. One of the many ways OPC achieves this purpose is by supporting innovative research that directly informs and improves the stewardship of ocean and coastal resources.

ideas
Ideas Description

Promote apps and tools that promote healthy fishing practices and combat already existing effects of pollution and population loss:

SourceTrace provides full visibility of aquaculture Value Chain and operation from pond to market, where smallholder farmer plays an important role. Enables Farmer Groups, Aquaculture businesses, Government and Non-Government agencies working with smallholder farmers make informed decisions, improve overall operational efficiency and traceability DATAGREEN (DG).

Coral Vita creates high-tech coral farms that incorporate breakthrough methods to restore reefs in the most effective way possible. Our scientific team has partnered with leading marine institutes, utilizing techniques to grow coral up to 50x faster while boosting their resiliency against the warming and acidifying oceans that threaten their survival.

You can play a key role in securing the future of our seas and marine wildlife by making more environmentally responsible choices when buying seafood. Use the Good Fish Guide to find out which fish are the most sustainable, and which are the least sustainable. Make the right choice and reduce your impact – every purchase matters! We also have tasty sustainable seafood recipes for you.

CleanSwell is used to document millions of pounds of trash found during beach cleanups. It tracks the path of users during cleanup efforts, tallies miles cleaned up, and keeps a record of the total amount of trash you’ve collected. CleanSwell's data delivers a global snapshot of ocean trash, providing researchers and policy-makers insight to inform solutions.

Ideas Value Proposition
Ideas Sustainability
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