As our population grows, so does our need for food. We look towards the ocean as an everlasting resource. As the years go by, our growth from sustainable fishing to industrialized fishing is impacting the ocean’s resources. We are decimating the ocean fish population, which raises the question of what should be done about it. Should we ban ocean fishing?
What are the Benefits of Ocean Fishing?
The most significant benefit of ocean fishing is curbing hunger, both localized and industrial, respectively. The United States alone eats 4.3 billion pounds of fish each year.
The consumption of fish worldwide is essential. But just as important as feeding the mouths of the masses is the money generated in this industry. The world's oceans provide upwards of 40 million jobs a year. That is a massive percentage of our population that is not only sustaining their hunger off the sea but also supporting their families from it as well.
Moving from a global scale to a smaller one, many small, local ocean communities live off the ocean as well. Places like Hawaii and the Florida Everglades use sport fishing to bring in money from tourists. Other countries in Southeast Asia have fishermen that go out for a daily catch in order to sell them at the local fish market. The ocean helps local economies thrive.
Food and money are two essentials needed to survive in our society currently, and the ocean certainly provides both.
What is So Bad About it, Then?
There are tv shows depicting people taking extreme measures to take down large-scale ocean fishing. And there is a reason why there are so many of these shows. It is to emphasize the fact that large-scale ocean fishing is severely impacting the environment that is the ocean and the population that calls it home.
The most strenuous impact is on the fish themselves. While it may look infinite, the ocean does have a limited number of fish, and we are eating them, and fast. It is not sustainable fishing; we know this because the average size of the fish being caught is shrinking rapidly.
The habitat in which ocean life dwells is also being destroyed at an alarming rate. Many industrial fishing vessels drag their nets on the ocean floor, destroying much of the habitat. This trolling also catches many endangered species, furthering their demise.
Air and ocean pollution has no prejudice when it comes to this type of fishing. The by-products are largely left for the ocean to deal with, and the processing plants and boats release large amounts of pollutants into the air.
Between habitat destruction, overfishing, and air and water pollution, it is not hard to see why people want a ban on open-ocean fishing.
How Would a Ban on Ocean Fishing Help?
This is a time to be worried about our oceans, but not a time to give up hope. Actions are being taken to combat the destruction of this global food industry.
The most prominent and controversial conservation idea (and the title of our article) would be implementing a ban on open-ocean fishing. This may sound crazy, but it is not as farfetched as it seems.
Much of the food supply that comes from the ocean is not from international waters. Only about ten percent is said to have come from the deeper areas. This ban would limit the places where fish could be caught. But that does not mean fish would know these boundaries, as many fish, like tuna, would frequent both regions.
These bans would give fish a chance to repopulate their numbers and put some boundaries for industrialized fishing. The proposed ban would not ban ALL ocean fishing, just in international waters. This ban would also help geopolitical economics as countries would need to cooperate to ensure the exports and imports of fish as a food commodity are ongoing. Places like the coast of Africa or countries that border the Indian Ocean would benefit greatly from a ban.
It would be hard to implement at the start, but down the road, the payoffs would be tenfold, both economically and environmentally.
How Would This Affect Our Future?
It is a fact that if we keep fishing at this rate, we will be losing the ocean as a food source quickly, on a global scale. Something must be done to save our future.
On the environmental side, if we continue fishing in the ocean the way we do now, we will lose some endangered species. A considerable portion of their habitat will be destroyed, leaving many displaced, which in the animal kingdom can be a death sentence.
As these species die out, more and more fish will be farmed in aquaculture farms and local hatcheries. This will turn our coastlines into a proverbial ocean-dwelling Nebraska. The pollution will also raise the water temperature, which will inevitably harm the production of these farms.
Economically, if we continue, the local and tourism fisherman will be at a loss which will affect families across the globe. There are 40 million people who rely on the ocean as a source of income, and a ban on ocean fishing would put millions at risk of poverty.
So, while a ban on ocean fishing sounds like an extreme act, there will be benefits down the road. Either way, we must keep a very close eye on the impact of ocean fishing.