Bad news for the world’s oceans.
The UN just released its biannual State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report. According to the report’s findings, rampant overfishing continues to accelerate, depleting the seas of vital fish populations while threatening other sea creatures including dolphins, whales and sharks.
For the first time, aquaculture – the farming of fish in tanks or designated coastal areas – provided the globe with the majority of its fish stocks for consumption. Wildfish populations, however, are still overexploited. The numbers are staggering: one-third of global fist stocks face biologically unsustainable levels of fishing. In the Black Sea, 59 percent of stocks face the same hyper-exploitation.
This stems largely from an increase in the globe’s daily fish diet. Per capita consumption of fish is now around 44 pounds per year.
Overfishing has long plagued the seas. The persistence of destructive and illegal fishing practices, such as the use of wide drift nets that indiscriminately capture all creatures within an area, continue to threaten the survival of aquatic birds and mammals.
In addition to ravaging the biodiversity of the oceans, overfishing takes a heavy toll on coastal communities that depend on fishing for their local economies. Newfoundland in Canada, for example, may never witness a comeback of the once economy-sustaining cod, largely due to altering ecosystems that may prevent populations of the formally abundant creature from bouncing back.
Now is an important time to not only think about your own sea food consumption, but to consider the importance of conservation as well. Organizations such as the World Wildlife Federation runs programs aimed at aquatic conservation. Consider supporting this or another affinity organization in order to help stave off a complete collapse of the world’s oceanic ecosystems.