5 Reasons There Will Soon Be No More Fish in Our Seas

Fish live in the sea, fishermen catch them and we eat them: How many of us, whether we eat fish or not, have heard such a story as children?

But the image of fish in the sea could become a tale from the past. Our oceans are running out of fish and our generation may well be the last to hunt them in large numbers, due to insatiable global demand for fish. At a time when fish stocks around the world are decreasing, global fish consumption is now about 17 pounds per person a year, a record high, with the average person eating four times as much fish as in 1950.

A BBC report offers some disturbing details about how a combination of more efficient technology, government policies and human consumption are fast eliminating the world population of fish.

1. Efficient methods such as bottom trawling are turning widening swaths of global seas into the equivalent of deserts. This has already happened in much of the Mediterranean and the North Sea and could well occur in West Africa. Recent data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reveals that West Africa’s coastal fisheries have declined 50 percent in just the past 30 years.

2. Government policies that provide subsidies are a short-term solution that add up to a long-term problem. According to the BBCone in three fish caught in Spain is paid for by a government subsidy. Subsidies keep people employed (certainly a pressing issue in Spain, where unemployment is around 25 percent) but are not sustainable and ultimately deplete jobs along with the world’s fish supply.

3. We have simply become too good at catching fish. But now we need policies to prevent overfishing and undo the tragedy of the commons situation, whereby fishermen simply seek to net as many fish as they can in any waters. Fisheries need to be managed in sustainable ways; a policy promoting sustainability would be for each government to set “quotas based on stock levels in their surrounding waters” and then to ensure compliance with monitoring.

4. The marine ecosystem is, thanks to the new top marine predator (us), out of whack. Formerly sharks were on the top of the marine food chain but their numbers have declined by 80 percent worldwide and, as a result, there has been an “increase in fish numbers further down the food chain, which in turn can cause a crash in the population of very small marine life, such as plankton.” Climate change, acidification and pollution have also taken their toll on our seas and other marine wildlife including seabirds, who are caught in nets and discarded.

5. Only a miniscule 1 percent of the ocean is currently protected and it will not be until 2020 that 10 percent of it is. But simply protecting the ocean is not enough; such areas also need to be monitored and regulations enforced. In addition, as endangered species including sharks are migratory, mobile reserves are very much needed.

On a more cheery note, the BBC cites one study according to which, by just designating 4 percent of the world’s oceans as reserves, 108 species (84 percent) of the world’s marine mammals could be protected.

What really stood out to me in the BBC‘s report is that we humans have become the “top marine predator.” Like it or not, that’s a huge responsibility and we owe it to the oceans, ourselves and our children to protect fish before, one day, there are none left.


Related Care2 Coverage

Success! Super Trawler Banned From Australia’s Oceans

Some Chinese Losing Their Taste For Shark Fin Soup

Shark Deaths Throwing Off Ocean Balance


Photo by Joseolgon via Wikimedia Commons

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Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Fiona T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Because of over-fishing

Abc D.
Past Member 2 years ago

How much overfishing is done around the world? You can go to fish markets and fish markets in supermarkets, and probably 90% or more of the fish is still there days later, etc.

Diana N.
Diana N.3 years ago

That's why I keep saying, BOYCOTT THE FISHING INDUSTRY! Humans are land animals and do NOT need any seafood for a healthy diet!!!

Darla Taylor
Darla Taylor3 years ago

Thankkks for the article.

Patricia D.
Patricia D.3 years ago

Thanks for the information!

Ros G.

#3 We have simply become too good at catching fish. Not true - our trawlers have become too sophisticated - they can travel further - store more tonnage - but there is still a lot of by-catch that is thrown back. Australia recently banned the Super Trawlers from it's waters - unfortunately only temporary though.

Elizabeth O.
Elizabeth O.3 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Valerie A.
Valerie A.3 years ago


Sheila Miller
Sheila Miller3 years ago

Thank you for the article. The fishing industry seems very out of control.
Something should be done.