Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Marine life has been greatly neglected and over-used by humans for hundreds of years. Therefore, it's common knowledge that Earth's oceans have become susceptible to many conflicts over the years such as oil spills, plastic pollution, habitat destruction, and noise pollution. However, over-fishing seems to be the main cause of the decline in marine life.
As of now, a single person eats an average of 19.2kg of fish a year--double the amount from 50 years ago. Many ocean predators are getting wiped out, almost 90% disappeared in the last 55 years (animals like sharks, bluefish tuna, marlin, swordfish, etc.) Fishing nets cause more harm than good, killing many vital marine animals in the process. Commercial fishing often leads to a major issue of excessive extermination of marine life, as large-scale fishing only uses a fraction of their catch, leaving the rest to be disposed of as waste. All that being said, it is estimated that the world will run out of seafood in 2048. In addition, all of these facts don't even begin to cover all the issues. Over-exploitation of marine life contributes to the erosion of the food chain as more and more species are becoming endangered.
This issue is continuously being overlooked due to the lack of consciousness on this topic. As a result, many of the people working in the commercial fishing system are not held accountable for their actions because there is little to no regulation protecting marine life. However, there are several documentaries uncovering serious crimes in the marine world. For example, you can check out "Seaspiracy," directed by Ali Tabrizi, on Netflix. Tabrizi does a great job documenting his journey and his struggles while also educating his audience over the many issues going on in the ocean. "Seaspiracy" is one of my favorites because it highlights the fact that this issue doesn't have just one person to blame, but is due to a chain of critical people keeping this conflict running in secret.
A great way to create change and start educating yourself over this matter is by enriching yourself through reading books or articles, watching movies or YouTube videos, or even initiating discussions with friends or family. In short, there are many ways to access information about marine life. One book, The End of The Line, by Charles Clover, exposes the dark side of the fishing industry and talks about how much damage over-fishing has on our ecosystem. It was first published in the UK in 2006, but its compelling popularity brought it over to America, and it was eventually turned into a movie in 2009.
There are many solutions to reducing the wasteful and destructive practices of the fishing industry, such as changing certain diet choices or steering clear of unethical restaurants, in order to stop support of unethical commercial fishing companies. People always tend to shy away from change especially in diet choices, but that doesn't have to be the case, not when there are many vegetarian alternatives that are just as good as the real thing. So why not support it? You can enjoy your meal without having to worry about damaging a whole food chain.
Moreover, making drastic diet changes is not the only solution. You can start small by doing proper research on species of fish tied to environmental and marine life damage, and steer clear of those when shopping. The End of the Line contains a fish choosing guide at its end which is a great place to start. The guide includes lists of ‘fish to avoid’, ‘fish to be wary about', and ‘fish to eat with a clear conscience’. You can also properly recycle items that can be easily incorporated into everyday life. Another big thing is to utilize reusable items in order to reduce waste; reusable items will not only reduce ocean pollution, it will also reduce money spent on plastic utensils, bags, bottles, straws, containers, etc.
Nonetheless, hoping to stop fishing completely is not a realistic goal at least not worldwide; but we can minimize it by diminishing over-consumption. It's important to remember that over-fishing is not the only issue concerning marine life. We need to become more aware of how we impact the planet during our everyday life. Even something as small as a diet change or how you choose to get ride of waste can make a big difference.
By: Rawan Muhsin