Sucking the Ocean Dry

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One major environmental problem facing the United States today is over-fishing. Due to its vast resources and sheer size, the oceans have been used to essentially feed the world to this point, as over 2 billion people rely on the ocean for protein and diet. However, this reliance has led to the overfishing of many species causing declines of many fish populations important to the ecosystem. In order to preserve the delicate ecosystem of the ocean, rules must be set governing fishing rates and methods.

            Although private restrictions designating certain areas of the sea and dividing "portions of fishery" amongst different crews do exist, more needs to be done to monitor fishing methods and the rate at which certain fish are being caught. Should the ocean continue to be sucked dry of its resources and life-forms, extreme environmental and economic problems will surely arise. According to a 2008 UN Report, fishing fleets across the world are losing approximately $50 billion a year due to overfishing. This number will continue to grow if steps are not made to slow down the rate at which fish are caught and the freedom fishermen have in doing so. Additionally, should the overfishing trend continue, the extinction of various species is inevitable. In fact, many species have already been run so low that it is impossible to catch the number of fish that could have been caught just years before.

            Yet another problem concerning the ocean that needs immediate addressing is the protection and restoration of many critical habitats such as the aesthetically pleasing coral reefs and mangroves. Aggressive, sometimes illegal fishing methods are negatively impacting the reefs themselves, while simply overfishing has completely altered the ecosystems of many of these habitats. This change in the ecosystem then affects the ocean and even on-shore companies as, according to the University of Michigan in an online article concerning human impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, "the biodiversity of reefs supports the aquarium and aquaculture industries, biomedical industry and other commercial industries".

            Due to its sheer size, the ocean has been taken for granted, as man seems to assume that its life forms and benefits are endless. However, this has been proved false as over-fishing has led to a decline in fish populations and the economic success of many fleets. In order to preserve the ecosystem of our oceans, fishing rates need to be monitored and capped. Similarly, the government needs to determine what methods of fishing should be allowed within a certain proximity of critical marine habitats, such as coral reefs and mangroves, among others.

 

References:

http://overfishing.org

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-overfishing/

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1 Comment

Since I do not live near an ocean, I rarely hear about these kinds of issues. It is extremely surprising and saddening that the bodies of water that make up 75% of our Earth are in so much trouble. And I am sure that a lot of people, like myself, know little to nothing about it.

Like you mentioned, I think that since the oceans are so big, it is easy to assume that the life and resources they hold are endless. I remember in the beginning of All Our Relations, they mentioned how the salmon population was just a fraction of what it used to be. Although some people said it was not a big deal, it was obvious that the effects could be devastating.

In addition to government reform, I think that helping the public become aware of these issues should be a major goal. I remember when Disney came out with all of those environmental movies that started to get people talking. If more projects like that were created, it would allow individuals to learn about issues far from home. Especially for people who do not live near an ocean or do not know a lot about commercial fishing. And hopefully, more emphasis on change would follow.

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