Threats to our Ocean Fisheries

Most people are familiar with the problems of the blue whale, efforts to save endangered
sea turtles, and the many tragic tales of dolphins dying in tuna nets. Many people do not realize
the extreme danger that tuna and many other fish face. There is an alarming decline in fish
populations, and this poses a dangerous threat to life in the ocean. If fish decline, so does the
sea, into and unstable environment. Conservation measures, and public support for them are
For decades man has taken fish out of the sea, seeming to believe that there is an endless
supply, and that this supply cannot be destroyed. We take these fish out of the sea faster than
they can be replaced. According to National Marine Fisheries services, 90 fish species found off
the shores of the U. S. have been depleted. Many more are in danger off being killed off. Fish
and shell fish that are at danger include: cod, flounder, swordfish, bluefin tuna, blue marlin,
Atlantic lobster, red snapper, salmon and some species of shark. These are just a few and the
The chief problem of the fish numbers being at an all-time low, is over fishing. Yet
another environmental problem caused by the human race. Modern, technologically-advanced
fishing fleets have the capacity to push most fish populations to the brink of extinction. Modern
fishing fleets have large factory steam trawlers that can easily haul in net loads of up to 100 metric
tons of fish. These vessels can work fishing grounds for many months at a time.

Echo sounding has been useful to fisherman by locating and determining the species and
size of fish shoals. Airplanes and helicopters are even used to detect the surface fish. Some
species such as squid are attracted with strong lights and then sucked into the ship with powerful
Because of these improved technologies more fish can be harvested, but about one-fourth of the
global catch, ( over 20 million tons of fish and other marine animals) are discarded yearly by
fisherman. Some of these fleets throw away more fish than they keep. This waste is a problem
The threat of over fishing is increased be the threat of large-scale changes to marine
ecosystems. Most salt water fish spend most of their time near coastal areas, but the problem is
that these coastal waters are being assaulted by pollution and development. Without healthy,
functioning coastal systems, fish cannot grow or reproduce, they simply cannot and will not
There are a number of steps that can be taken in order to conserve our waters and the
fish in them. One big thing we can do is crack down on the companies and the people that are
harming the environment. We could have harsher punishments for those committing crimes
against our oceans, and the ocean wildlife. Another thing that could cut down on over fishing is to
fine companies that over fish a large amounts and use that money to put back into our waters.

If something is not done about the problems of over fishing and water pollution,
permanent changes will take place in the ocean food chain. The predator-prey relationships of
the ocean will cease to exist. These relationships, which took millions of years to evolve, will be
destroyed. The depleting fish populations will alter and damage the genetic and species diversity
of the ocean world. If we could understand the meaning of moderation, perhaps over fishing
would not be a problem that our environment would have to endure.

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