SUSTAINABLE FISHING AND OVERFISHING

By Rajabu Juma Rajabu – Art in Tanzania internship

SUSTAINABLE FISHING

The overexploitation of the Lake, Rivers, Seas, and ocean is leaving them without fish. This is confirmed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in one of its latest reports. It calls for sustainable fishing model to ensure the survival of species and fishing activities. Sustainable Fishing contributes to protecting marine fauna and conserving the Oceans and Seas.

Sustainable fishing is one that is harvested at a sustainable rate where the fish populations does not decline overtime because of fishing practices. The sustainability in Fisheries combines theoretical discipline  such as the population dynamics of fisheries, with practical strategies such as avoiding overfishing through techniques such as individual fishing quotas, curtailing destructive and illegal fishing practices by lobbying for appropriate laws and policies, setting up protected areas, restoring collapsed fisheries, incorporating all externalities involved in harvesting marine ecosystems into fishery economies, educating stakeholders and the wider public, and developing independent certification programs.

Sustainable Fishing means leaving enough fish in the ocean, respecting habitats and ensuring people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods. As also to ensure the fish harvesting is not fully exploited by keeping fish stock remains for future generations.

SUSTAINABLE FISHING PRACTICES:

There are ways to fish sustainably, allowing us to enjoy seafood while ensuring that populations remain for the future. In many indigenous cultures people have fished sustainably for thousands of years. Today’s sustainable fishing practices reflect some lessons learned from these cultures.

Due to issues such as overfishing global fish stocks are in trouble today. It has been estimated that approximately 70% of Fisheries worldwide have been over exploited or have already collapsed. So, what can we do to remedy this challenging situation and help our global fish stocks rebound?

We can remedy this challenge by using sustainable practices that you can use when you fish at your favourite local fishing holes. These include:

  1. Hook and lining (Pole Catching). This fishing technique involves using a fishing pole that have one line and several hooks. This allows fishermen to quickly release bycatch.
  2. Harpooning: Fishermen use hand thrown harpoons or barbs that are fired from a gun to catch large fish like Swordfish with very little bycatch.
  3. Traps: This fishing technique involves guiding fish into boxed or reef nets placed near the water surface that allows the fish to be tipped into a holding tank. Wire mesh traps that lie on the bottom can also be used sustainably if they are not dragged a long the ocean floor.
  4. Longlining: This technique uses a very long central fishing line that has many smaller lines of baited hooks attached to it. If these longlines are placed deep in the water and if special circle hooks are used, they greatly reduce the incident of bycatch.
  5. Gillnetting/ Drifting: A massive curtain of net that is suspended using floats or anchored using weights. The netting is essentially invisible so fish swim into the net and get their gills caught.
  6. Trawling: Think about a huge net being dragged behind a boat. The boat is hoping to catch large schools of fish within the net and tire them out forcing them into the back of the net. This practice can be done on the bottom of the ocean or in mid water.

  • Trolling. You have probably seen this one along coastline where a boat has multiple lines being dragged behind a boat. This is a sustainable approach to open water fishing because soon after being caught fish are brought to the boat and released without much stress as other methods. It has minimal bycatch and sustainably approach.

ADVANTAGES OF SUSTAINABLE FISHING:

Sustainable fishing is a more artisanal and small-scale method with social, economic, and environmental benefits, some of which are based by FAO code of conduct for responsible fisheries some of these are summarized below:

  • Protect Marine Fauna.

Sustainable fishing respect marine ecosystems and adapt to the reproductive rate of fish to maintain a balance and ensure the survival of all species. Fishing must be at a level that ensures it can continue indefinitely and fish populations can remain productive and healthy.

  • Avoid waste

In sustainable fishing the bycatch is used for example to make fish meal to minimize food waste. Fishing activity must be managed carefully so that other species and habitat within the ecosystem remain healthy.

  • Contribute to food security.

Sustainable small-scale Fisheries account for about 66% of all catches destined directly for human consumption so due to this it enables to protect the full exploitation of fish resources.

  • Reduce pollution.

Sustainable fishing generates less waste minimize energy consumption and reduce the use of chemicals that damage the ozone layer and the whole fish ecosystem.

  • Certifies the sustainability of the catches.

International standards such as the MSC (Marine stewardship council ) standard determine whether a fishery is sustainable and is being well managed MSC certified Fisheries must comply with relevant laws and be able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances.

OVERFISHING;

Catching so many fish at a time can result in an immediate pay off for fishers. Fishing with this consistency leads to few fish of each species left in the sea or ocean. If fish population is small, it cannot be easily replenished through reproduction. Taking wildlife from sea faster than population can reproduce and keep up with is known as overfishing.

OVERFISHING: Is catching too many fish at once so the breeding population becomes too depleted to recover. Overfishing often goes hand in hand with wasteful types of commercial fishing that haul in massive amounts of unwanted fish or other animals which are then discarded.

CAUSE OF OVERFISHING:

  1. Poor Fisheries Management. This happens when the fisheries organisations are not stable on formulating and monitoring the rules and regulations for fishing practices. With this kind of situation, it will enable fisheries with the freedom to harvest at their maximum ability.
  2. Unsustainable fishing. Means  to catch or harvest fish without considering the needs for the future generations, like the current generation, exploiting fish stocks for their own needs only and not considering the others.
  3. Illegal and Unregulated Fishing activities. This happens when fishers harvest fish populations illegally without any recorded reports for the government. In addition, the fishers are harvesting resources like open access area due to government and Fisheries regulations being weak.
  4. Bycatch. The incident of catching non targeted species such as dolphins, Marine turtles and seabirds also resulted to overfishing because those untreated species may be depleting and destroying their reproduction.
  • Overcapacity. When the fishing vessels of all sizes are entering in water bodies such as ocean or seas many with increasing capacity and efficiency to catch and carry out more fish will result to overfishing. Because the vessels have ability to harvest fish more than the stock available in their habitat.

IMPACT OR EFFECTS OF OVERFISHING:

  • Ghost fishing.

This is occurring when lost or discarded fishing gear that is no longer under a fisherman control continues to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles, and sea birds. Derelict fishing nets and traps can continue to ghost fish for years once they are lost under the water surface or depleted.

  • Fish depletion.

Overfishing can occur in waters bodies of any size such as lake, sea, ponds, rivers or oceans and can result to resources or stocks to be depleted, reduction in biological growth rates, and low biomass levels. Which leads to fish populations to be depleted or full exploited.

  • Ecosystem destruction.

Excessive overfishing in water bodies will result to destruction of some marine ecosystems like fish habitat near shorelines as well as in the deep sea, and destruction of fish reproduction. When more fish are taken out of the ocean or sea it creates an imbalance that can erode the food web and lead to losses of other important marine life including vulnerable species like sea turtles and corals.

  • Decreasing food and economic security.

Demand for fish continues to increase around the world and that means more business and jobs are dependent on dwindling stocks. When fish disappears so do jobs and coastal economies are drive over exploitation and environmental degradation.

SOLUTIONS OF OVERFISHING

  • Catching control

Thereare still little control countries have with their fisherman. There needs to be control so the Fisheries know what catch an endangered species of fish is or not. The control could be done before and after the fishing, so the controller could see the catch.

  • Protect some Marine areas.

We haveto know where the real habitats of some endangered fish species are and protect the area. By protecting these areas fisheries will not be allowed to fish in those areas . The protection of some marine areas we will help the water ecosystem recovery by giving the time for them to recover.

  • Fish farming.

The other way we could be done to increases fish stocks or populations without harming the water ecosystems is by farming the fish (Aquaculture) . We create another small ecosystem that will not hamper another ecosystem. By feeding and taking care of our fish, they will breed and creates more fish stocks.

  • Fishing licence.

This is an act of providing fishing license to the fishermen, just like a licence for the owner of the gears and licenses for those who practice fishing. This will help  monitor the fishers who harvested resources illegally without any permission and make easily managed overfishing.

  • Public education provided.

The government must use their Fisheries extension to provide the knowledge to fisherman on how maximum sustainable yield is important and practise to keep reproduction of fish stocks continuous for future generations.

  • Seasonal fishing. The government should implement rules and regulations for fishing to be conducted at a specific period of time. This will help by giving fish stocks more time to reproduce and grow at a healthy state and remedy the fish depletion problem to the maximum.

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