In the wake of record-high demands for fish among consumers, it is plain to see that the ocean’s resources are running dry. Chief among concerns of environmental sustainability, the issue of overfishing has to be addressed post-haste. According to studies from the nonprofit conservation society, MarineBio, at least 32% of the world’s fisheries are “overexploited, depleted, or recovering.” Overfishing, coupled with inefficient conservation practices has led to a loss of habitat for fish populations. Simply put, we are consuming fish at a rate higher than they can reproduce and maintain equilibrium in the ecosystem.
A head-on solution geared towards resolving the issue of depleting numbers in the ocean, sustainable fishing has emerged as the nascent means of ensuring the sustainability of the marine habitat for years to come. By practising responsible fishing habits, fisheries protect the longevity of fish species by leaving enough fish for constant repopulation. Make no mistake, the onus is on the fishing industry – the main threat to marine wildlife due to profit-minded behaviour.
Why is Sustainable Fishing Important?
The fishing industry impacts the global population, both directly and indirectly. More than 12% of the global population depend on this industry for business and sustenance. From restaurants to humble fishmongers, the actions of these fisheries will determine the future of our oceans. Bear in mind that the ocean in itself is a delicate ecosystem, and every aquatic animal and plant has a part to play in maintaining its balance. Industries that rely on these very ecosystems will ensuingly topple in a chain reaction once the first domino falls. For these reasons, it is imperative that fishing nations commit to sustainable fishing practices.
What do sustainable fishing practices look like? I’ve talked in the past about how large corporations can step up and take ownership of business practices by utilising carbon credits to offset their carbon footprint. The same logic is applicable to fisheries and mass fishing entities across the globe. Blue carbon credits, as the name might allude to, are marine-based efforts to protect biodiversity and mitigate climate risk. Companies can purchase these blue carbon credits to offset and diminish repercussions on ocean life. Though in many ways, blue carbon credits exist more as a response than a preventative measure. Businesses themselves must first take ownership and minimise fishing practices that are detrimental for the ocean, and not solely rely on blue carbon credits to counteract irresponsible conduct.
Let’s get some facts straight – not all fishing practices are inherently harmful. However, indiscriminate large scale fishing activity such as dredging, trawling, and blast fishing hurts our oceans dearly. In that regard, such behaviour has to be put to a halt. I am not calling for a boycott of fishing activity across the board, I am advocating for sustainable fishing activities to protect our oceans.
How Can We Support Sustainable Fishing?
I strongly believe that no contribution is too little and no effort is too small, everyone can chip in to supporting sustainable fishing on an individual level. By buying locally and backing domestic produce, not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but profits can also be divested back into the community. Such a commitment builds confidence and enables a strong foundation for native businesses to thrive.
Apart from voting with your wallet, knowledge goes a long way towards reinforcing sustainable fishing. Understanding where your seafood comes from and choosing sustainable farms helps the ocean stay healthy while avoiding metals and microplastics found in fish. The more pious of us might also adopt plant-based products when possible, to alleviate the increasing demand for fish supplies.
Lastly, you can also encourage non-profit conservation organisations and stand up for their efforts to promote sustainable fishing and marine life conservation. Donating or volunteering your time means a great deal to those who dedicate their life towards the fight for our ocean’s long term survival.