The environmental impact of fishing
includes issues such as the availability of fish, overfishing, fisheries, and fisheries management; as well as the impact of industrial fishing
on other elements of the environment, such as by-catch. These issues are part of marine conservation, and are addressed in fisheries science programs. According to a 2019 FAO report, global production of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals has continued to grow and reached 172.6 million tonnes in 2017, with an increase of 4.1 percent compared with 2016. There is a growing gap between the supply of fish and demand, due in part to world population growth.
The journal Science published a four-year study in November 2006, which predicted that, at prevailing trends, the world would run out of wild-caught seafood in 2048. The scientists stated that the decline was a result of overfishing, pollution
and other environmental factors that were reducing the population of fisheries at the same time as their ecosystems were being annihilated. Many countries, such as Tonga, the United States, Australia and Bahamas, and international management
bodies have taken steps to appropriately manage marine resources.
Reefs are also being destroyed by overfishing because of the huge nets that are dragged along the ocean floor while trawling. Many corals are being destroyed and as a consequence, the ecological niche of many species
is at stake. Some fishing
techniques cause habitat destruction. Blast fishing
and cyanide fishing, which are illegal in many places, harm surrounding habitat. Blast fishing
refers to the practice of using explosives to capture fish. Cyanide fishing
refers to the practice of using cyanide to stun fish for collection. These two practices are commonly used for the aquarium trade
and the live fish food trade. These practices are destructive because they impact the habitat that the reef fish live on after the fish have been removed. Bottom trawling, the practice of pulling a fishing
net along the sea bottom behind trawlers, removes around 5 to 25% of an area's seabed life on a single run. Most of the impacts are due to commercial fishing
practices. A 2005 report of the UN Millennium Project, commissioned by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recommended the elimination
of bottom trawling on the high seas by 2006 to protect seamounts and other ecologically sensitive habitats. This was not done.In mid-October 2006, United States President George W. Bush joined other world leaders calling for a moratorium on deep-sea trawling, the practice has shown to often have harmful effects on sea habitat and, hence, on fish populations. No further action was taken. The sea animal's aquatic ecosystem
may also collapse due to the destruction of the food chain.Additionally, ghost fishing
is a major threat due to capture fisheries. Ghost fishing
occurs when a net, such as a gill net or trawl, is lost or discarded at sea and drifts within the oceans and can still act to capture marine organisms. According to the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, States should act to minimize the amount of lost and abandoned gear, and work to minimize ghost fishing.
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