refers to the act of overexploiting fish such that they reduce tounacceptable limits. The problem occurs if humansharvest large fish quantitiesthan they can be replaced via natural reproduction in a given waterbody. Although catching large amounts of fish appear profitable, ithas dire social and economic consequences. interruptsbalance of the marine ecosystem. Similarly, majority of the coastalpopulation depends on fishing as their source of livelihood. Thisimplies that the overpopulation causes an economic crisis to both thepeople who rely on fishingoccupationaswell as several people who rely on fish diets.For many centuries, the oceans have been a reliable source of fishdiets that replenish naturally. However, since the last half of thetwentieth century, extensive fishing practices are risking depletingthe natural sources of fish. For an ecosystem to remain in balance,the ecosystem should provide a suitable recovery environment. Theobjective of this paper is providing the serious issues that resultfrom overfishing, as well as provide suitable strategies for solvingthe problem.
AccordingtheUnited Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)SOFIA report, 52% of the fish stock is completely exploited, 20% aremoderately harvested, 17% are overexploited, 7% are depleted, and 1%is on the process of recovering from depletion. The data implies that25% of the global fish population is either depleted oroverexploited. In addition, 52% are at optimum exploitation and riskof overexploitation. In total, approximately 80% of the world’sfisheries are depleted, over-exploited, or close to collapsing(Froese, 2004). The marine life imbalance poses a health risk sincemillions of people depend on fish for nutrition supply. Depletion ofsome fish species leads to ecosystem imbalance, which may extend tohuman health. Millions of humans consume seafood, specifically fish,in large supplies to acquire health benefits. Various studies haveproven that fish diets are great for a healthy heart, boosting thebrainpower, clearing vessels, reduce vulnerability to inflammatorybowel disease, improve skin appearance, as well as well as eyesightamong other health benefits. If the seafood suddenly becomesunavailable to human beings, many people can suffer serious healthconditions due to inadequate supply of basic nutrients (Sanchirico &Newell, 2003).
Onthe same note, overfishing causes serious economic issues. Millionsof people depend on fishing as their source of income. However,depletion of fish supply has forced millions of people to give up acareer that has been passed down to them from several generations. Inaddition, the fishing industry employs numerous individuals bothdirectly and indirectly. For example, the disintegration of theAtlantic Canadian Cod fishery in the 1990s left numerous peoplejobless. In addition, the Canadian economy also lost the income itused to generate from the industry (Froese, 2004). The level ofunemployment and wealth also decreased significantly afterintroduction of the strict fishing regulations. The fishmongers,transportation service providers, and packaging companies were closeddown in Canada because of the moratorium that restricted fishingactivities in Canada. Similarly, New Economics Foundation (NEF)asserted that overfishing cost the United Kingdom 100,000 jobs, aswell as US $3.2 billion annually (Fell, 2007).
has also been a significant source of social problems. Unemploymentis one of the major sources of insecurity in the world. In many Asianand African coastal regions, fish often account up to 50% ofemployment opportunities and regular diets. Fishing suspensions andreduced catch force people who were depending on fishing income toresolve to unethical methods of earning income such as stealing. Inaddition, small communities that depend on fishing as their source oflivelihood may suffer from health problems caused by poor dieting(Froese, 2004). Extensive malnutrition causes social problems in theform of reduced productivity and vulnerability to dangerous epidemicsthat may wipe out communities. In poor countries where employmentopportunities are limited, overfishing may result in a massivemigration. Major cities and businesses in regions that are affectedby fishing restrictions often collapse or develop at very slow rate(Newell, 2007).
Sincethere is no country that owns fish in the oceans, the developedcountries with advanced technologiescatchbig fish quantities than developing nations with poor or no largefishing vessels. As a result, the developing countries with limitedcapital to invest in the fishing industry have resolved in sellingfishing rights to international fishing services. On the same note,many countries have extensive patrols intended to protect unlicensedinternational fishing vessels from catching waters in other outcriesterritorial waters. Fishing vessels that are caught catching fish inrestricted territorial waters are often subjected to heavy fines. Invarious international waters, overfishing is a major problem suchthat it has made countries affected by the problem to develop variouspolicies aimed at restricting individual vessels fromoverexploitation of fish. Examples of some of the latest restrictionpolicies that countries have made to prevent overfishing includetotal allowable catch limits (TAC), season-length restrictions,vessel power and gear restrictions among other measures. In otherplaces such as the United States, the country allocates individualfishing quotas (IFQs) and dedicated access privileges (Fell &Sanchirico, 2007).
Strategiesfor reducing overfishing
Thefast increasing population in the world has continuously madeoverfishing critical problem. Fortunately, environmental experts,nongovernmental organizations, and various countries have createdeffective measures that can help to suppress exhaustion of fisheryresources. The strategies applied in controlling overfishing aretailored to suit the variety of common overfishing methods. The maintypes of overfishing methods include ecosystem, growth, andrecruitment fishing. Growth overfishing mainly occurs when fish isharvested at very young age, thereby making it hard for therecruitsto regenerate. This problem is mainly controlled through controllingfishing gear such as the net size. Various countries require anglersto use a standardized fishing net that can selectively catch maturefish while allowing the fingerlings to swim out of the trap. Thetechnique has proven efficient since anglers catch mature fish whileallowing the young ones time to grow into maturity and regenerate tosustain the aquatic ecosystem (Sanchirico & Newell, 2003).
Therecruitment overfishing is another serious fish exhaustion method.However, this depletion method occurs in environments where the rateof harvesting exceeds reproduction rate significantly. This impliesthat the available adults cannot reproduce quickly enough to preventexhaustion of the fish species (Sanchirico & Newell, 2003). Oneof the methods used to mitigate this overfishing problem includeestablishment of fishing quotas, total allowable catch limits (TAC),individual fishing quotas (IFQs), as well as dedicated accessprivileges (Fell & Sanchirico, 2007). These are all forms ofoverfishing restrictions that aim at limiting fishing in given areasthat are at risk of exhaustion.
Growthoverfishing is another common problem that happens when farmersharvest immature fish. This problem can be controlled throughrestricting gear used in catching fish, as well as implementingstrict regulations that would prevent anglers from catching fish thatare smaller than a given size. Several countries are using thestandardized fishing nets that only catch fully developed fish whileallowing the young ones to swim past the trap (Sanchirico &Newell, 2003).
Theecosystem overfishing occurs in instances when overfishing creates anenvironmental imbalance. For example, if the anglers target a certainpredator fish, herbivorous fish will increase abundantly since thereare no predators to control the rate of generation. Increased fishspecies that depend on plants, such as plankton, leads to quickdepletion of the food supply. Over time, the fish population exhaustsall the resources in the environment (Sanchirico & Newell, 2003).
In2010, environmental researchers proposed a HarvestControl Rule(HCR), which aims at regulating fish harvesting. HCR encompasses acollection of tools and protocols that help anglers to regulateharvest rates and techniques in relation to forecasting the maximumlong-term sustainable harvest, as well as stock status. The rulesoften control regular fishing mortality and the steady catch (Fell,2007).
Somecountries have also been encouraging commercial fish farming tosupplement natural fish supply. Environmental experts predict thatthe natural supply of fish will not satisfy the global population inthe future, hence the significance of developing alternative sourcesof fish supply. Artificial farms have proven popular among manyfarmers since pond owners can create optimum growth condition toenhance fish regeneration speed (Fell, 2007).
Thefishing quotas are a classic mitigation strategy that involvesrestricting fishers to exploiting given regions only. The advantageof this mitigation approach is the fact that it does not require anyform of restrictions. The quotas are mainly common in internationalfishing zones. Countries or different companies allocate specificzones that dedicated companies can exploit fish (Fell, 2007).
Theindividualtransferable quotas(ITQs)areanother mitigation approach established under theMagnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.The regulation limits the fish quantity that a fishing vessel orcompany can catch within given period. The policy varies from oneregion to another since the permissible quantity of fish within givenzones differs significantly. Examples of the countries that haveembraced ITQs include the United States, New Zealand, Canada,Australia, and Iceland. In some cases, the ITQ regulations areimplemented alongside moratoriums (Matsushita et al., 2008).
Lastly,consumer awareness has also helped in reducing overfishing problem.The consumers are discouraged from purchasing young immature fish asa strategy for ensuring that anglers will respect the internationalstipulations of harvesting mature fish only (Matsushita et al.,2008).
Althoughnumerous countries are dedicated to mitigating overfishing problem inthe world, a variety of factors has hindered successfulaccomplishment of this objective. One of these hindrances includesresistance of anglers to obey the law. Despite the fact that somecountries marine officers dedicated to ensuring that fishingcompanies follow the regulations, guarding international watersagainst overfishing can be challenging. The regions that requireconstant watching are too wide such that it is possible for vesselsto harvest fish in restricted zones unnoticed. However, the latestsatellite technology has come handy in regulating fishing inrestricted zones (Matsushita et al., 2008). The fishing vessels aresupposed to maintain satellite visibility in order to enableoverfishing prevention agencies to implement regulations. Fishingvessels that fail to accomplish these obligations are often forced topay hefty penalties as a warning to other vessels that might attemptto use such unethical fishing regulations.
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