skip to Main Content
Ocean Optimism Part 2

There are many positive things being done to improve the world’s most precious bodies of water: our oceans. For every difficulty we uncover in the ocean’s ecology some upstart organization or far-seeing government has brought to the table a viable solution to a seemingly impossible problem. We certainly need these people and organizations to continue to grow their care for the ocean, and WE need to participate, so we can change the tide and restore these bodies of water to their natural states of health before it’s too late.

Over three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by ocean and these oceans contain over eighty percent of all life on earth. The oceans are a rich natural resource which provides the world over 200 billion pounds of fish and shellfish each year. Presently3 billion people worldwide rely on fish as their primary source of protein. The increase in world populations naturally increases the demand for fish and this causes fish populations to dwindle and affects our fragile aquatic system severely.

THE CHALLENGE

If we continue to overfish, we are at risk of losing a vital food source.

A good example of the problems with overfishing occurred in Newfoundland, Canada. The cod fishing industry was the region’s main source of income, but they had reduced the population of codfish so much over the years that at the beginning of the season in 1992 there were no codfish. Over 40,000 people lost their jobs. The codfish population has still not recovered for the disaster. If we keep fishing at the rater we are in 2015 in 25 years many important fish stocks will be gone.

According to a research, 17% of the fish stocks worldwide are currently over-exploited, 52% are fully exploited and 7% are depleted. Ninety percent of all large predatory fishes including tuna, sharks, swordfish, cod and halibut are almost gone. The overfishing of one species can drastically affect another ones throughout the food chain, which is going to decimate the aquatic ecosystems. Without large fishes, the medium sized fishes will have a population explosion and the medium fish will overeat the small fish that prey on algae and plankton, and so on and so on.

BUT, there is hope: small communities and yes even collaborating governments’ are innovating solutions and ideas to help us sustain the fish population. Here are a few:

SOLUTIONS

  • Fish banks: Small communities around the world are creating their own “Marine Sanctuaries” that in turn create economic opportunities for themselves. Instead of these marine reserves being run by a government it is run like a business for the community’s long-term economic benefit. The “Spillover” of creating these small sanctuaries in coastal communities would benefit them economically through added tourism dollars, jobs in the management of the marine sanctuary and, long-term return of the fish that sustains them. It is “win/win” for all involved!
  • 5 nations pledge to extend marine protections to cover more than a million square miles: This is great news, not only for the fact that this kind of territory is being protected, but that globally there is recognition of the over-fishing problem and the need for action. Many more marine sanctuaries are needed, as only 1% of the ocean is protected from fishing at this time, but it is hopeful that more Marine Reserves will be forthcoming!
  • Countries could & do agree to help stop overfishing in the high seas: Ten countries using commercial practices in international waters dominate the global market by catching more fish. If we support the protection of international waters, coastal catches are expected to rise almost twenty percent! Limiting fishing space will economically support coastal fishing nations worldwide.

We need to take action. Unsustainable fishing practices and habitat destruction are threatening many fisheries with worldwide collapse. Scientists and advocates from around the world are working to raise awareness and push legislation to protect our oceans. All people have interests in a healthy ocean and marine life, and there is an international effort address those needs. Whether it’s by voting, supporting local organizations, or buying sustainably sourced fish, we can all positively impact our oceans and fisheries!