Whether you are a diver, snorkeler, fisherman, eater, chef, tourist…We all have one thing in common and that is that we LOVE fish in one way or another. That is why it is so important that we all understand and spread the news about sustainable fishing. We can all live together happily and maintain our fish stocks to acceptable levels, as long as we all do the right things.
What exactly does sustainable fishing mean? It is making sure that fish are able to continue to live in their specific habitats. It is making sure that the number of a certain species stays up and doesn’t get overfished. Making sure that we don’t catch fish that are too small or too large. It is making sure that there will be enough fish for the future.
You can do this by fishing for specific species different times of the year to maintain a good amount of different fish. Use methods that are not detrimental for other species and don’t produce large bycatch. Make sure we don’t destroy their habitat due to overdevelopment, and pollution.
It is the large demand for seafood and change in technology that is causing the depletion of fish populations all over the world. Did you know that more than 170 billion pounds of wildlife is removed from our oceans each year? If we continue at this rate, the ocean won’t be able to continue providing us with the food we need/want. Therefor it is so important that rules and regulations are set out and that we fish sustainably.
Some of the worse methods of fishing are purse seining, which uses large nets. The nets are huge and are used to catch a large amount of fish all at once. The other one is long lining. This technique uses a very long line with hundreds of hooks which gets dragged behind the boat. Both methods are very efficient and catch so many fish at ones. But, these methods are also harmfull. One of the downfalls of this type of fishing is what is known as bycatch. Quite often unintended species are caught when fishing like this. For example you are using longlines to catch Bluefin Tuna, however other fish, sea turtles or even birds get caught by accident.
Luckily there are ways to fish sustainably so we can continue eating the seafood we love so much. For example instead of using long lines, let’s move back to the original way of catching fish by rod and reel. It causes way less bycatch because any mistakenly caught fish can just be released straight away. You are only catching one fish at the time so reducing the chance of overfishing. By having hunting seasons, gives the specific species time to catch their breath, grow, reproduce and maintain it’s stock level.
Each country is responsible for regulating fishing in their coastal waters. However, the international areas that don’t really belong to anyone specifically are harder to regulate. There are a couple of international agreements in place and many nations are trying hard to protect and regulate these certain areas. The way they do this is based on scientific data like knowledge of species histories, their migration paths etc. These regulations may specify how big a fish has to be, how many fish one can catch on one day, how many fish can be caught in total.
Another way to help prevent overfishing is to stop eating fish and other seafood. Or at least make yourself familiar with which fish is not threatened with extinction, whether it is the right season, how this fish is caught…
Below is a link to a great guide to help you make the right decisions!