Overfishing is a monumental global crisis, if left unchecked, overfishing can lead to an utter imbalance of the food chain and critical dispensation, when fish populations are so reduced in size they are no longer capable of sustaining themselves.It is a threat to human existence, with millions of people dependent on fishing as their livelihood or as their main source of protein, without sustainable management we will see the collapse of many fishing populations and ecosystems.
So what are the solutions to overfishing?
1. Consume sustainable fish
The Marine Stewardship Council MSC, an international non-profit organization, is on a mission to tackle unsustainable fishing and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. They are one of many private groups who are telling consumers what is good or bad for the environment. Their blue label guarantees that the wild seafood was caught using methods that are not detrimental to other sea life, from corals to sharks, neither do they deplete the natural supply. Find your sustainable fish here.
2. Declare Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are important tools in the effort to stop overfishing. When combined with sustainable fishing practices, MPAs are able to help conserve biodiversity through the reduction or outright banning of fishing. This enables fish populations and marine ecosystems an opportunity to replenish and rebuild. Without measures such as MPAs and “no-take” reserves, biodiversity is likely to be lost before we know of its importance for humanity.
3. Legally protecting essential predator species
Essential top ocean predator species, like sharks and tuna, are some of the most vulnerable to overfishing and are experiencing unprecedented population declines worldwide. These species are also fundamental to the maintenance and balance of local ecosystems. Without these vital predators, there will be an overpopulation of prey species, leading to ecosystem changes and eventually serious environmental damage.
4. Alternative livelihoods for fishermen
Alternative livelihood programs are a key feature of contemporary conservation that aids to reduce the pressure on marine ecosystems and associated species, as well as limiting the impact of conservation on the well-being of the local communities. Mitigation of impacts include the transition from the fishing- out local of marine resources to opportunities to earn income in the tourist sector. Alternative livelihood programs offer social and economic benefits to resource users, and the communities will in turn reduce their need to exploit resources, contributing to the conservation and protection of local biodiversity.
BONUS: #5. Support Shark Conservation Projects!
Saving Our Sharks Foundation is working with local fishing cooperatives that previously fished sharks, to help them develop alternative and more sustainable tourism services that offer the opportunity to see sharks in their natural environment. Find out more about our work with the Isla Mujeres Shark Initiative and support the fishers in their brave endeavor to change their old ways.
Fishing is more than a way to catch food, it is a livelihood for millions of people, a cultural identity and a connection to mother earth. However we are draining our oceans of seafood at an alarming rate, therefore it is essential to act now if we are to save the future of our oceans. If we work to align fishing and conservation interests, so that there is an incentive for fishermen to conserve marine resources, we will save the life in our seas.