One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, No Fish?


Caeleigh MacNei

OUR STORIES Climate Change Leaves Fish and Crabs Gasping for Breath Rising water temperatures and falling oxygen levels are forcing Atlantic cod, rock crab and other species to make for the North and South Poles, stressing the ocean food chain to the breaking point.

Overfishing, an issue many people are familiar with, is a controversial subject to some and just another “problem” to others. Some may have a strong opinion about it, but I am here to ask the question: is overfishing right?

Pros of overfishing: It meets the growing demand for food. About 380,000 people are born a year. As a result, there is a high demand for food that must be met worldwide. With 17% of all edible meat coming from the sea, the ocean can provide many with food across the globe.

Commercial fishing also has a large financial impact. The industry alone provided around 61 billion dollars to the U.S. in 2016. Throughout history, fishing has always had an impact on communities, especially rural ones that rely on catching and selling fish as their main source of revenue.

Fishing also provides opportunities to eat healthier. With bad eating habits causing obesity all over the planet, more and more people are trying to be health-conscious about what they eat.

Fish is a nutrient-dense food. Fatty fish, such as salmon, provides omega 3’s that can prevent heart disease and strokes. Tuna supplies the body with minerals like vitamin A and vitamin D and is a great source of protein. Thus, fish is the food of the future and is an environmentally friendly alternative to red meat.

Cons of overfishing: It affects the ecosystem. Overfishing disrupts the food chain by reducing the natural population of fish. Apex predators, such as orcas, sharks, and dolphins, are starving or being forced to swim far distances for food that has been depleted due to commercial fishing.

Overfishing also damages the ecosystem due to some boating companies using methods such as bottom trawling that can crush coral and decimate reefs in the matter in minutes, affecting the photosynthesis cycle in the ocean. That not only affects the ocean but humans as well, with coral reefs providing around half of the oxygen we breathe.

Bycatching (when other marine life is caught instead of a specific species) is also a major problem when it comes to commercial fishing. It is estimated that over 40% of what the world catches is bycatch, which is about 63 millions pounds of bycatch a year, leading to the decline of sea turtles, dolphins, and whales.

Do the pros outweigh the cons? Overfishing can be beneficial and provide food for the billions of people that rely on fish everyday while also tearing apart the ocean ecosystem and leaving a trail of suffering for all of marine life. “Providing or destroying” are the two words that are left for you to think about while you try to answer the question: is fishing right?