Updated: Aug 2
Overfishing is defined as the rapid capture of fish, at a rate faster than that specific species of fish reproduces. This imbalance results in a depletion in the population of said fish, which hurts everyone involved. By overfishing, fishing companies drive fish to dangerously low populations, to the point where they can no longer catch enough fish to keep up with the quantity they used to be able to collect. But more importantly, overfishing can be catastrophic for marine ecosystems as a whole.
So why has overfishing gotten to this point? The issue is that most countries lack laws that properly regulate fishing companies, which leads to them going rogue and over collecting fish. Combined with the growing demand for fish and seafood, this results in a dangerous overconsumption of fish, one that outpaces nature itself. Even where rules and regulations are in place, they are often very weak and limited, and cannot stop the overfishing problem. Additionally, most of these countries do not protect ocean areas in the same ways that they would protect land with endangered species. Only 1.5% of the world's oceans have been deemed protected by legislature, but even then, 80% of those “protected areas” still allow fishing.
Most of these companies also use huge wasteful and damaging nets that drag along the ocean floor to collect their fish. This method is called "bottom trawling'' and is extremely detrimental to coral reefs, sea sponges and other types of marine life. Another issue is that the massive nets also bring in plenty of unwanted fish, which end up being thrown back into the ocean but often die in the struggles with the net beforehand. This is called "bycatch" and usually happens with larger ocean animals like dolphins, sharks, whales, sea lions and more. Thus, even more marine populations are hurt, which in turn hurts the local ecosystem even further.
Marine life isn't the sole victim of overfishing; humans can be just as negatively impacted by this rapid decline in fish populations. Many people rely on fishing for their occupation, and even more so depend on them as a food source. By lowering populations so fast, these fishers have caused massive imbalances in the marine ecosystem of every fish they rely on for income. Not only does overfishing cause a decrease in fish population, but it also directly causes a food shortage, which is especially damaging in areas close to beaches and rivers, where seafood is a major food source for the citizens.
Overall, overfishing is extremely hurtful in several different aspects and it is imperative that countries pass legislation to combat this soon.