Human beings are so lucky to have a planet that is made up of 71 percent or around 140 million square miles of water. This is because the vast ocean is one of the most important sources of food and other resources since time immemorial. There are more than 3.5 billion people who are immensely dependent on the ocean as their primary source of food. Experts believe that this number could double in a few years. However, the seas and other bodies of water, as well as its inhabitants, are being threatened by numerous factors.
For one, coastal developments pose a lot of risk to coral reefs around the world, which is home to 90 percent of marine life. In fact, studies show that almost 60 percent of the remaining coral reefs are in danger of becoming extinct in the next three decades. And as coastal zones become more and more overpopulated, the quality of the seas and other bodies of water continue to diminish while wildlife is displaced and shorelines eroded.
Aside from developments in coastal areas all over the world, around 600,000 barrels of oil has been accidentally spilled into the ocean every year. But the mere presence of offshore oil refineries is a threat to the ocean itself, as it damages marine ecosystem.
Dumping of plastic waste in our seas is also another threat. The staggering number of plastic materials thrown into bodies of water has killed millions of fish, sea mammals and sea birds each year. To make things worse, plastic continues to put the lives of millions sea creatures in grave danger every day.
Another significant reason why the ocean is in grave danger is because of overfishing. Research show that populations of large fish, including cod, swordfish, tuna and marlin have dramatically declined in the past century. Annually, there are 100 million sharks killed for their meat and fins. To add to that, use of non-selective fishing gear, including longlines, trawl nets and gillnets destroy around 20 million ton of marine life, including, small dolphins, porpoises and whales.
With overfishing being rampant in all parts of the globe, people have been debating about how it can benefit the public and why it is still being practiced despite the fact that it is one of the biggest threats to the ocean. Here is a list of the pros and cons of overfishing.
List of Pros of Overfishing
1. It has created more job opportunities.
Since the aquaculture industry boom, numerous jobs have been made available to the people. This is especially true in impoverished areas where decent and good-paying jobs are quite rare.
2. It provides new skills set.
Fishing companies and other entities that consume, process or serve seafood require people to carry out different tasks. This is where training will be needed. As a result, people will have new sets of skills that can be added to their resume.
3. It can help boost the economy.
The demand for seafood has been increasing in the last few decades. With more and more companies being set up for overfishing, there will be more sources of income, which results in more taxes for the local government. Aside from that, exportation of seafood products will also do good for any country as it provides more work and more income for the government.
4. It helps people eat healthier.
Seafood is healthier than other kinds of meat. With more people becoming more health conscious nowadays, it’s no wonder there is a growing demand for seafood. And thanks to the presence of overfishing companies, such demand can be met.
5. It meets the growing demand for food.
Overfishing helps feed the masses. By introducing new species of marine life to the people, the public has now more food choices.
6. It helps replenish the marine life.
Companies that are into overfishing have replenishment systems to ensure that they can continue to meet demands.
List of Cons of Overfishing
1. It can cause a dent in marine life population.
This is especially true for species that are more in-demand. Although there are replenishment efforts in place, this cannot provide immediate solution since it takes time for fish and other marine creatures to grow and be useful to humans.
2. It can cause overpopulation of other species.
In one of the South American inlets, sharks were overfished. This resulted to having more jellyfish, making the water unsafe not only for humans but also for other marine species.
3. It affects the ecosystem.
This is because overfishing disrupts the food chain, other creatures that rely on seafood have to adapt and change their environment and characteristics. For one, animals may be forced to travel to distant regions to survive. When that happens, they can be hunted down or forced out of the place for not being its natural habitat.
4. It can increase pollution.
Garbage in the ocean can grow in number. This makes the water more polluted, making it unsafe for people and animals alike.
5. It can lead to the exploitation of non-fishing zones.
Because fishing companies need to fulfill the growing demand for fish and other seafood, they will be forced to fish beyond areas that are supposed to be non-fishing zones. This is because they will have depleted the supply in certain areas.
6. It can cause the total collapse of fish stock.
Too much commercial fishing has made some seas uninhabitable to any form of marine life. As a result, fish populations have declined by 90 percent. If this goes unresolved, there will be no more fish and other seafood sources available.
Overfishing may have offered short-term solutions to food shortage as well as unemployment in some areas. But it’s long-term effects are far worse and alarming. This is why overfishing should be stopped all at once before it’s too late. Otherwise, future generations will only know of the word “fish” through books and the internet. Unfortunately, reversing decades’ worth of overfishing requires strict regulations and proactive policing of the policies.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.