Facing the collapse of large-fish populations
From where we stand on the land, or on a boat in this case, the sea seems to hide an innumerable amount of fish and other marine resources. Ask any diver, and you will get a different –rather saddening answer. Bad fishing practices, both legal and illegal, along with the lack of strict rules, topped with our massive consumption habits are only a few factors that contribute to the rapidly depleting fish populations. Evidences of this issue are overwhelming.
Overfishing: The most serious threat to our oceans
Take halibut and yellowtail flounder for example. In the past decade, their population in the Atlantic is at its all-time lowest. In the early 1990s, cod fisheries also completely collapsed which was kind of ironic because most of the North Atlantic economy depends on these fish. Until now, the population still has not reached back its original stock level. Evidence shows that the recovery is going slowly and is often attached with cautionary messages despite more than two decades of recovery program. Population of blue fin tuna in the Pacific continues to decline and is currently at only 4% of its original size!!!
Based on a report published in the November 2006 issue of the journal Science, bad fishing practices are the most threatening contributors to the depleting number of fish species. If such practices continue, without strict regulations to set clear boundaries and limits, massive depletion of marine resources will happen as soon as 2048. Some of the most harmful fishing practices include:
- Coral Reef Destruction: the highest example of marine biodiversity is coral reef. It has been destroyed for decades (if not centuries), eliminating habitats for massive numbers of fish.
- Bottom Trawling: according to a report submitted in 2005 by United Nations Millennium Project, a single run of bottom trawling ruined about 25% of the seabed ecosystem.
- Fishing Gear: fishing by using environmentally-destructive equipment that destroys the seabed.
- Destruction of Food Webs: every animal and plant in the ocean is part of large food web. When one species is depleted, the food chain has to undergo big changes that potentially damage the entire ecosystem. Due to the high demand for certain type of fish or species, some commercial fishing ventures target only one fish, but they do it in large-scale.
- Dynamite and cyanide: both are illegal practices, but they still thrive in some countries. Damages from these methods are permanent and irrecoverable.
- By-catch: it is almost impossible to catch only specific type of fish without risking the others. There are some regulations that allow tuna fishing in certain seasons, but this method also often catches dolphins.
- Overfishing: unregulated fishing allows massive extraction of fish from the ocean.
We have run our dive center in Padangbai for more than 10 years and unfortunately neither are we safe from bad fishing practices. More and more fishermen rely on big fishing nets rather than waiting around with a fishing rod for a catch or two. Dive sites around Bali are fortunately still in an rather good shape, but until when? How long do we have before the last fish or piece of seafood is being dragged out of the ocean?
As divers & ocean lovers we urge you to take at least one small step today towards saving our planet. Check out our previous blog posts about why we should not eat fish or easy tips how to reduce plastic waste in Bali.
If each of us makes at least one small effort in their everyday life towards saving the nature, then together we can make a difference in saving the world.