Overfishing Remains a Critical Global Issue

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, overfishing is leading to a humanitarian and ecological crisis.  The report finds that over 70 percent of fish species are being caught at a rate faster than they reproduce, leading to the near-depletion of many commercial fish stocks. The regulations & laws regarding this issue in every state in the States differ by a wide margin. It’d be wise to understand the laws of the place one lays bait. If one lives in Texas, mayhap they’d like to get a guide to fishing in Texas here and stay away from trouble.


In the U.S., the National Marine Fisheries Service reported that 92 percent of domestic fish sotcks are overexploited, but can recover if well managed.

With more than 200 million people worldwide depending on fishing for a living, and 2.5 billion relying on fish for food, the U.N. said that declining fish stocks will affect “food security and economic development” as well as social welfare and underwater ecosystems.

The situation is dire enough to prompt the FAO to predict that within ten years fish stocks will be further depleted by growing human populations.

Do these facts make you want to do something about it?  Here is an article issued in the the Washington Times Food section that will give you tips on how to make dining selections that won’t endanger troubled fish species.


Washington Times Newspaper: Washington, DC:

Smart seafood selections
By Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan

Seafood has long been praised for its nutritional virtues, particularly for its high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and low levels of saturated fat.

Chefs and home cooks extol its versatility. As a result, Americans are eating seafood at an escalating rate. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates we are consuming about 16 pounds of seafood per person, per year. Yet only recently has it occurred to most of us that bringing large quantities of seafood to our tables can damage the delicate ecosystem of our oceans and seas.

Responding to high demand, many seafood producers are abandoning ecologically friendly fishing practices and adopting methods that destroy the ocean floor, take in too much by-catch (seafood that trawling nets collect by mistake), and deny slow-growing species time to regenerate. The result is that some of our favorite seafood is in danger of extinction.

The Fisheries Service estimates that 92 domestic fish stocks are overfished, but declining wild populations can recover if their breeding habitats are protected and fishing methods are used that prevent overfishing, by-catch and habitat destruction.

Fish farming, also called aquaculture, is one alternative, but it, too, is controversial because of the possible harm it causes by releasing waste into rivers and oceans. There also is concern that farmed fish might escape their habitats and spread disease and destroy wild genetic strains by mating in the wild.

This does not mean that seafood lovers must cut fish from their diets. Informed consumers can exercise responsible buying power, whether they’re eating at home or in restaurants, and choose fish that are plentiful.

If you live near a fresh seafood supplier, get to know the people there and ask questions. Ask how, when and where the fish were caught. If you decide to use only fresh, seasonal and sustainably caught or raised fish, you probably will have to be flexible in deciding what to make for dinner. However, because fish are so versatile, it is unlikely that selecting only sustainable fish will derail meal planning.

Various online guides offer printable wallet cards that can be carried along for reference. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program has an online seafood guide called Seafood Watch. It is searchable by region and also has a printable wallet card at www.seafoodwatch.org.


The Blue Ocean Institute, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization, has a similar guide as part of its From Sea to Table program at www.blueoceaninstitute.org/From_Sea_to_Table/25

Cookbooks, too, sometimes provide details on the state of the oceans and how our eating habits affect the ecosystem. “One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook” (Smithsonian Books) is one good resource. “The Sustainable Kitchen” (New Society Publishers) is another.

Although guidelines vary, many recommend avoiding wild-caught caviar, Chilean sea bass, Atlantic cod, imported king crab, monkfish, orange roughy, farmed Atlantic salmon, wild-caught sturgeon, Atlantic swordfish and some varieties of tuna. The problems vary, but these are all fish that have environmental issues associated with their capture.

Caviar comes from sturgeon, a large fish that does not begin to produce eggs until it reaches 20 years of age. Aggressive fishing has not allowed for new generations of sturgeon to mature, so the species has been threatened. Snapper faces similar challenges.

Like sturgeon and snapper, cod takes many years to regenerate. With high demand, the species is in danger of being overfished. Cod is caught primarily by bottom trawling, a method the National Academy of Sciences says has been found to damage the ocean floor, not only altering the natural habitat of cod, but also damaging the habitat where juvenile fishes of other species hide from their predators.

Trawling also can result in by-catch. Monterey Bay Aquarium estimates suggest that for every pound of shrimp caught in a trawl net, an average of 2 to 10 pounds of other marine life is caught and discarded overboard as by-catch.

There are many alternatives to some of the seafood favorites we are being advised to avoid. We do not need to give up caviar. Many delicious and environmentally sustainable alternatives are available domestically, such as farmed white sturgeon, farmed paddlefish, wild Alaska salmon and whitefish.

Pacific salmon is well-managed, according to the Seafood Choices Alliance, a nonprofit ocean conservation group. Look for wild Alaskan, pink, sockeye and chum varieties. Arctic char and rainbow trout are good alternatives when sustainable varieties of salmon are not available.

Many farms, such as those for farm-raised striped bass and catfish like Outdooremp Fish Farm, practice sustainable farming by using systems that minimize pollution leakage.

Because Atlantic mackerel matures in a few years, is a fast swimmer and is found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, it has come back after a period of overfishing in the 1970s. It is considered a sustainable option for recipes calling for a grilled or broiled fillet or whole fish.
Although the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute recommend avoiding some varieties of tuna, such as bluefin and some yellowfin caught with a long line, many varieties are fast-growing and prolific breeders.


Pole-caught and troll-caught albacore tuna has less by-catch, so it is considered a good alternative to long-line-caught tuna. Ask your fish vendors what kind of tuna they are selling.

In terms of shellfish, mussels are one of the best bets, according to both Sea to Table and Seafood Watch. Not only do they improve surrounding waters by filtering out algae, but because most farmed mussels are raised on ropes, farming them causes little habitat disruption.

Click here for a wallet sized version of the Fish List!

Sources and information compliments of Jodi Wynn with newsdesk.org