Is Over Fishing a Real Concern to the Environment
Overfishing occurs when more fish are caught than can be replaced naturally in the aquatic environment. A certain number of fish need to remain in the environment in order to breed to replenish and replace those fish that are caught.
What It Causes
Overfishing can lead to decimation of the fish stock to the point that there are not enough fish to be caught in the future and the entire population may even become extinct. Overfishing can occur in any aquatic environment of any size, from a small lake or river to the ocean.
More than a third of fish stocks have been fished beyond their level of sustainability. The result of this is that strict management guidelines will have to be put in place in order for these populations to reach healthy levels once more.
Overfishing often results in fishing fleets having to travel greater distances into more treacherous waters to try to catch enough fish. This places the fisherman and their crew at great risk and means they are away from their families out at sea for even longer periods of time.
Overfishing has become such a problem that it has had an economic impact, with fleets projected to be losing as much as $50 billion a year. Overfishing has also had a very negative impact on aquatic ecosystems, particularly in the oceans. Since each species plays an important role in a food web and in ecosystems, their removal has an effect on all the other species as well. Animals that prey on the fish will be impacted as well as the animals that the fish prey on. This is known as ecosystem overfishing where the removal of the fish has ramifications for other individuals in the ecosystem.
There are other types of overfishing. Growth overfishing is when fish are caught at too small a size with the result being a decreased yield per recruit. A recruit is a fish that is mature enough to reproduce. Another type of overfishing is recruitment overfishing where too many recruit, or mature spawning individuals are removed from the population.
The environment has been negatively impacted by overfishing. This is because population levels of animals have to remain in balance for an ecosystem to remain healthy. The human environment will be impacted due to a lack of fish for food and because of the conservation implications. Species near the top of food chains that rely on fish for food may decrease in numbers or become extinct themselves.
Over fishing is clearly a major concern for the environment since the health of our freshwater ecosystems and oceans on which we depend relies on having healthy fish populations. Decreased numbers of fish has already led to problems with populations of predators, such as the bald eagle in certain parts of North America. People have also had to undertake more dangerous fishing expeditions in the ocean in order to catch enough fish since regions closer to shore have been severely overfished.