Overfishing threatens Eastern Seaboard

The negative impacts of commercial fishing are not things most city folk worry about. When eating seafood at a nice restaurant, most urban dwellers forget the process it takes for that food to get to their plates. Nevertheless, the fishing process is a huge problem that affects marine life around the world. Overfishing occurs when more fish are caught than the population can naturally provide.

This can affect an area for decades and leave fishing businesses in a bind when there just are no more fish to catch.

Fishers have to go further into the ocean for a catch, which is often more dangerous and requires better equipment and boats. Unsustainable fishing practices have led 85 percent of the world’s fisheries to push their limits, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

Another problem is that overfishing takes away natural predators which can cause an increase in other marine life that may negatively affect the aquatic community. For example, sardines could overpopulate and decimate plant life without the presence of the bigger fish that eat them.

Another harmful fishing practice is the use of deep-sea trawlers. Often unregulated, trawling is problematic because it entails dragging weighted nets along the seafloor in order to catch fish. These nets destroy anything in their paths, including precious coral reefs.

The destruction of these reefs can mean wiping out whole species of marine creatures.

Recently, President Donald Trump’s administration has called for the resizing of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. These monuments protect the waters around a handful of islands, most uninhabited and located south of the Hawaiian Islands.

By resizing the monuments, the government hopes to be able to expand commercial fishing.

Finding a balance between fishing and overfishing is hard because there are three goals: protecting marine ecosystems, providing food for the world’s population and ensuring job security for the millions of fishers across the globe.

It is important for the government to realize that we must protect our oceans and invest in them. Our oceans provide so many economic and social benefits that it is just not feasible to let terrible fishing practices destroy them.

Groups like the Honolulu-based Western Pacific Fishery Management Council seem to find a sweet spot by enforcing and supporting strict fishing laws and sustainable practices while also encouraging the abolition of the monuments. Hopefully, supporting these groups will allow our oceans to prosper once more.

November 13, 2017

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Jessica Kraker

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