Wasteful fishing is not unique to the live fish trade
. The global industrial fishing fleet has many times the capacity needed to extract marine wildlife sustainably. The unsustainable exploitation of fish and other marine wildlife is pushing ocean ecosystems
to the brink of collapse. Worldwide, some 35,000 legal, high-tech fishing vessels ply the seas. In the past 50 years, the worlds fish catch grew more than fourfoldfrom roughly 20 million tons to 90 million tons. During the same period, the variety of fish species dropped by as much as 50 percent because of overfishing, habitat destruction, and climate change. Ninety percent of large predator fish species such as cod, shark, and bluefin tuna have disappeared. Industrial fishing generates about 25 million tons of unwanted by-catchfish and marine mammals that are dumped overboard, dead or dying. For every pound of wild-caught shrimp, at least 10 pounds of other sea life, including many fish otherwise sought as edible seafood, are also caught and discarded. In the 1960s, the average swordfish hooked and landed weighed 266 pounds. Today, massive fishing pressure has reduced the average size to 90 pounds. Long-line vessels annually set up to 10 billion baited hooks on lines as long as 60 miles. Millions of sharks, hundreds of thousands of sea birds and marine mammals, and numerous endangered sea turtles and other creatures die each year on those hooks. Some 1,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises die daily in trawl nets. Heavy bottom trawlers destroy delicate ocean floor habitat, much like bulldozers flattening a forest.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
ARTICLE: Ravaging Reefs
ARTICLE: Net Loss Overfishing
ARTICLE: US Fishing Moratorium