From fishing to overfishing

Ever since I remember, fishes have a regular and compulsory food item at my home on weekends. Of course, we eat a lot other forms of meat but fish dishes have their own value. It is probably because of their high nutritional value. I remember as a child, my mother would always tell me to […]


Ever since I remember, fishes have a regular and compulsory food item at my home on weekends. Of course, we eat a lot other forms of meat but fish dishes have their own value. It is probably because of their high nutritional value. I remember as a child, my mother would always tell me to eat fishes, as it has proteins that would help me grow. Her insistence had worked, and I have grown into a hardcore fish lover. Such is the magic of fishes. In fact, apart from being a popular cuisine, it also has economic value. Beside fishery in itself being a huge industry, it is also a source of livelihood for millions of people who earn by catching and selling fishes for various purposes. However, in the last 5 decades, unsustainable fishing has become a big problem for everybody. According to UN agencies, aquaculture that is the farming and sticking of aquatic organisms including fishes, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants is growing more rapidly than any other animal food producing sectors. This has caused a huge imbalance in the marine ecosystem, thus indirectly impacting the entire world.


The fishes that are among the most caught include top predators like, sharks and tuna. Overfishing of these fishes have led to their scarcity in the past few decades. This has had a terrible impact on the marine ecosystem. The fishes that are at the bottom of the marine food cycles have increased tremendously thus leading to overall imbalance. Beside this, we must not forget that fishing is of great economic value to countries across the globe. Overfishing, has become a serious threat to the livelihood of all those dependent on it. This problem further branches out to other plausible problems. When people start getting unemployed, there is a huge pressure built on the nation. The pressure is not only of moral duty to provide a source of income to all its citizens but that of the huge economic loss of the state. Also, fishes as I have mentioned above are of great nutritional value, especially proteins. Deprivation of such an important source of nutrition for the country people can also turn out to be a slow but significant loss in the potentials and efficiency of the people of that country. Also, since the demand for fish has increased rapidly due to the large scale consumption and there is a fall in the availability, the price of fish has also risen exponentially. This has obviously attracted big entrepreneurs to invest in fishery thus totally marginalizing the small scale fishermen, with them having their work getting snatched.

Now, taking a look at what might be the reasons of accommodation of such problems might surprise us. Think about it from the perspective of a poor fisherman who fishes to earn for his family and tries his level best to provide the best of facilities to them. What is the incentive for him to leave an extra fish in the water that he had found? Given that extra fishes for him means more money and better life for him and his families. While overfishing is a problem, we really can’t blame the poor farmer who too is a victim of the structural violence. While this is bad, we also have to see that it the lack of proper rules that leads to such things. The problem of bad governance sweeps in when we notice that the government is somehow absolutely impotent in making and implementing such regulations that can actually lead us to have sustainable fishing industry. There are also no proper international laws to ensure such unfortunate activities and even the local government is not able to do much to check onto illegal fishing in counties. Also, we are not able to restrict people from fishing in areas that already has fewer fishes left thus, removing all possibilities of regeneration. These inefficiencies has led to a larger problems which has both societal and economic impact. One of these problems is pirate fishing. A mere stronger word for illegal fishing under which comes more than 20% of world’s catch and a large sum of money. Due to lack of proper checks, these pirate fishers are becoming totally immoral in fishing, thus moving farther into the seas and as deep as they can get. This as I have talked above is doing a lot of harm to the ecosystem. If not stopped, we might come to a point where, a number of marine species might become extinct.


We need some serious steps to cater to these problems of overfishing. We need stricter national and international laws. We need to stand together to solve this problem that we often tend to ignore while looking at the bigger environmental issues like global warming, water scarcity, population and pollution. However, while this problem might not affect a lot of us directly. We all know this from primary schooling that when one ecosystem is disturbed, it leads to the deconstruction of all other ecosystems. We might not want to imagine that but the extinction of these fishes will lead to slow extinction of the human species too. Also, we don’t want to reach the time when we can only hang pictures of fishes in our drawing rooms because there are no real fishes left to put in the aquarium. Of course, we would want our future generations too to enjoy the presence of these creatures. Let us work towards making this dream real.

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Written by pritha singh