Seafood is a staple food source around the globe. Fishing can create livelihoods, and feed entire communities. As the human population grows, so does its demand for the ocean’s resources. Commercialized fishing is meeting these demands, but at what cost? This industry not only destroys masses of their targeted prey, but in the process it also kills hundreds of thousands of other species; these unintended victims are called bycatch. Although commercial fishing is highly regulated in most countries; the continuation of over-fishing and bycatching is rapidly decimating food chains and ecosystems by killing predatory animals on a large scale, and destroying oceanic habitats.
Oceanic predators are a staple to the food chain, but they are also some of the most prized catches. The cod fishing on the Canadian coasts, especially the waters surrounding Newfoundland, saw a 99% loss of the cod biomass. Newfoundland was the largest cod fishery on the planet. When overfishing such as this occurs, the cod are not the only ones affected; cod are a major predator in its habitat. Its prey, mostly shrimp and snow crab, saw a dramatic drop in predation, and this permanently transformed this food chain. Cod are only one example of this trend; shark species around the world have seen around a 99% drop in their biomass. Killing one species affects all others surrounding it, and by overfishing specific species humanity threatens this delicate balance (Hill).
Technology in large scale fishing is highly efficient in catching extensive amounts of fish at a time, but it can also wreak havoc on the ocean floor. Clam dredging is the one of those techniques. Dredging is the process of dragging giant steel boxes across the ocean floor that scoop up the clams that lay in the top layers of the ocean floor. Not only does dredging destroy all life in its path, but it also stirs up sentiments causing the water quality to plummet (Shelley). Another form of this sort of destructive fishing is called seafloor trawling. Seafloor trawling is a technique that catches fish living at the bottom by dragging specialized equipment across the ocean floor. This destroys corals and oyster beds, both an instrumental part in keeping the ocean waters healthy. Although technology has facilitated catching masses of fish, it also needs to incorporate the health of the habitats they benefit from into their agenda (Hill).
Commercial fishing is going to be around as long as humanity, capitalism, and the demand for seafood are present. And even though it does include the killing of animals, there are sustainable ways to do so. Endlessly taking from the ocean does not help humanity, it only ensures that there will not be a future for it. Humanity needs to regulate fishing now, so the ocean can be fished in the future.Without a healthy ocean, there is not a healthy planet, and there needs to be more concern with its well being. With advances in fishing technology, and immense regulation, humanity can make a valuable effort to fix its mistakes and provide a future for its oceans.
Hill, Jacob. “Environmental Consequences of Fishing Practices.” EnvironmentalScience.org, www.environmentalscience.org/environmental-consequences-fishing-practices.
Shelley, Peter. “Clam Dredging: A Path of Destruction.” Talking Fish, 4 Jan. 2016, www.talkingfish.org/2016/newengland-fisheries/clam-dredging-a-path-of-destruction.