Overexploitation of Fishes: An Alarming Situation

by SRZaouali on November 6, 2015 - 9:26pm

        The overexploitation of fishes in the last few decades has reached a critical point. In fact, in the article “How the world’s oceans can be running out of fish” by Gaia Vince, the author argues that humans have exploited so much fish in the last few years that “we might be the last generations to catch fishes from the oceans” (Vince, 2012, par. 1). The author highlights some alarming statistics such as recent studies showing that each person consumes 17 kg of fish per year. Moreover, it has been found that 85% of the global fisheries are fully or overexploited.

        The author explains that some areas in the Mediterranean are now deserted due to the increase in the efficiency of fishing methods such as bottom trawling.  This effective and rapid technique allowed the European Union to take advantage of African countries where each trawler traps, each day, hundreds of thousands of kilos of fish. The use of bottom trawling has lead to the overexploitation of all West African fisheries as well as a 50 % decline of the coastal fisheries in the last 30 years. Furthermore, the author addresses serious impacts of the decline of fish quantities on humans. In fact, 400 million people in Africa and Southeast Asia rely on fish caught for protein and minerals.

        Vince also addresses humans’ overexploitation of exotic sea creatures (such as sharks) which is leading to their extinction. This has a significant impact on the marine ecosystem because it increases the number of smaller fish in the oceans, putting in danger the life of animals such as plankton without which, the entire ecosystem is threatened. That is, the author  suggests various solutions to the issue of overexploitation such as to create protected areas where it is forbidden to fish.

        Even though I was already aware of the impacts of overexploitation, this article made me reflect on our role as individuals and as a society on our environment. Since a few decades, human impacts on the ecosystem are critical as they are completely modifying our environment. Some of the solutions proposed by the author are already in place but I think that those local responses are not enough. We need to go beyond practical solutions and change our approach as a society on how we use and exploit our resources. Changes need to be done on the higher level. In other words, even if individuals are willing to stop exploitation and damaging the environment, it is not enough. People in higher position with more power such as governments and companies absolutely need to change their approach on fishing and exploitation of resources. However, are governments and companies ready to make those changes?   


Vince, G. (2012, September 21). How the World’s Oceans can be Running out of Fish. BBC. Retrieved from http:// www.bbc.com/future/story/20120920-are-we-running-out-of-fish


The article you chose is very enlightening and interesting. The way humans are treating fishing resources will result in a tragedy much bigger than the collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery in Canada. At the rate we are extracting resources and fish, we are interfering with their ecological equilibrium and causing species to become more vulnerable. As well, increase in climate change due to human actions can cause fish to change migration patterns and cause loss of habitat. At this rate aquaculture may be one of the few alternatives we have to acquiring fish product.

Exclusive Economic Zones are in place to mark 200 nautical miles off of country shores. this allows countries to have full authority and sovereignty over that area of water. Within the EEZ they are free to govern what actives occur. Do you think that there should be more governance as to fishing policies in these areas? Also should their be governance over the rest of the oceans to ensure that negative fishing practices do not occur?

Here is a website on EEZ and fish management you might find interesting


This article particularly struck me because of the wider societal issues it addresses.
Indeed, this article sheds light on an important human progress related dilemma; fishing methods being a lot more efficient than they once were, development find itself to be the sole cause of deserted seas. Not only are the ecosystems greatly endangered by such drastic progress, but also eventually human life.
The question you raise at the end is particularly interesting. I don't believe companies are ready to contribute to change due to the fact governments, most of the time, support them with their policies for a thriving economy. Environmental policies must be put in place prior to any change in collective consciousness.

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