Becoming Understocked

In Opinion

Children deserve to live in a healthy environment with clean air and all of the terrific aspects of life we experience today.

People and corporations have become “green” conscious. They are hopping on the bandwagon as of late, but there is one large environmental issue that despite its media coverage does not seem to get the attention it deserves – over-fishing. It refers to the depletion of ocean fish from ocean waters, and catching them faster than they can reproduce.

The forward-thinking Alaska

Department of Fish and Game is

on top of regulating commercial fishing, and does not hesitate to shut down coastal fishing grounds when reports show a dip in salmon numbers.

A report cited in a recent LA Times article showed that 90 percent of large fish, namely tuna, cod and swordfish, have been over-fished from the oceans. A group of scientists estimate that major seafood stocks would reach their end by the year 2048.

Additional to over-fishing, fishermen’s nets are often cast down to the bottom of the ocean in an attempt to catch various bottom-dwelling sea creatures, which are dragged across the ocean floor. The problem is that a net cannot distinguish between a lobster and a dolphin or any other type of fish. Let alone avoid bottom dwelling critter’s natural habitats. When the nets are brought up, fish and other sea creatures from different life cycles become entangled, injured, or possibly die from asphyxiation.

Between 1950 and 1996, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported a 400 percent increase in the amount of ocean fish caught. In addition, 69 percent of fish species are considered completely exploited, or are on the decline. For example, the Atlantic Cod is one species on the decline as well as stocks of high value ground fish have dropped 70 percent to 80 percent in the past two decades.

The Ocean Conservancy conducts research on the ocean’s ecosystem, fishery management, promotes legislation against over-fishing, help managers to enforce fishing laws and pursue legal action to protect the fish and the ecosystem that they

call home. In 1996 the passing and implementation of the U. S. Sustainable Fisheries Act was one way that this organization has made efforts to improve fishery practices.

In respect to the ocean’s food chain, the depletion of fish is said to be a contributing factor to the decline in marine birds and mammals population that dependent on ocean fish.

The livelihood of more than two billion people worldwide, including millions of Americans, depend on the ocean’s fish stock, reported the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Due to over-fishing, destruction of coral reefs, toxic pollution and other abuses and misuses of the oceans, the lives of this dependent human population is in jeopardy.

So face it, not only are fish an integral part of the ocean’s ecosystem as numerous scientists say, but are a healthy part of our diet as well.

Fishery management currently accepts over-fishing and often times encourage it by “fishing down” populations to about half their original size.

Fishery managers and fishermen are reluctant to observe rational fishing regulations, which can be detrimental to the

future of our world. It is bad enough that the ocean’s ecosystem is being turned topsy-turvy, but our children may never experience the delicious taste of various fish and health benefits if over-fishing continues.

It’s time to do something about it by raising awareness of the problem and working with organizations that present a solution.

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