First, it’s important to note that recreational fishermen are generally not responsible for overfishing. Overfishing primarily involves commercial fishing, where large-scale operations use massive nets to meet the ever-growing demand for fish. This is driven by increased global fish consumption, which has doubled over the last 50 years, and the growing world population.
Overfishing occurs when a region’s breeding stock becomes so depleted that fish populations can’t replenish themselves. This results in fewer fish each year or, at worst, the extinction of a fish species in a specific area. Overfishing is often associated with wasteful fishing methods that catch not only the target fish but also other unintended marine life.
Over 80% of fish are caught in such nets, leading to adverse consequences:
Increased Algae in the Water: Overfishing disrupts the natural balance, leading to uncontrolled algae growth and negatively impacting the oceans’ acidity, reefs, and plankton.
Destruction of Fishing Communities: Overfishing can devastate communities reliant on fishing for both their economy and primary protein source.
Tougher Fishing for Small Vessels: Large-scale overfishing makes it harder for smaller fishing operations to meet their quotas.
Ghost Fishing: Abandoned fishing gear poses a threat to marine life, trapping them even after being discarded.
Species Pushed to Near Extinction: Overfishing has led to the depletion of many fish species.
Bycatch: Non-target marine life caught as a byproduct of commercial fishing is known as bycatch and increases dramatically with overfishing.
Waste: Overfishing results in a significant loss of fish in the supply chain, with up to 20% of fish being wasted in the United States.
Furthermore, overfishing can lead to mislabeling, where seafood is falsely marketed, affecting consumer trust.
Why Overfishing Happens
Several factors drive overfishing, including inadequate regulations, unreported fishing activities, mobile processing of fish, and harmful subsidies. Government subsidies are a significant contributor, encouraging overfishing by rewarding the quantity of fish caught, rather than considering environmental impact.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, subsidies contribute to illegal fishing activities, piracy, slavery, and human trafficking. In 2018, it was reported that $22 billion, 63% of all fishing subsidies, supported practices encouraging overfishing.
The Role of Farmed Fish
Farmed fish were initially considered a solution to preserve wild fish populations while providing a source of income to communities affected by overfishing. However, the reality has proven to be different. Concentrated farming of fish leads to environmental pollution, heavy use of pesticides and drugs, and a decrease in the nutritional value of farmed fish. Farmed fish, in some cases, become less healthy than their wild counterparts.
Notably, farmed fish do not contain the same essential nutrients as their wild counterparts, which can pose health risks.
While overfishing affects numerous countries, the main culprits tend to be less-developed nations in Asia and the undeveloped world. Notably, the United States appeared on a “shame list” in relation to overfishing, particularly of bluefin tuna, alongside Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Indonesia.
China stands out for providing significant subsidies promoting overfishing and underreporting its overseas fishing catch, especially in Africa.
Overfishing can lead to economic instability in local communities, as seen in New England and the Japanese fish market. These effects have far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems and people’s livelihoods.
The Severity of Overfishing
Overfishing is a critical issue that cannot be underestimated. For example, the Pacific bluefin tuna population has declined by 97%. This species plays a vital role in the marine food chain, and its extinction could disrupt the entire ecosystem.
Overfishing has broader ecological effects, including the depletion of smaller fish species that keep coral reefs healthy.
Alternatives to Combat Overfishing
To address overfishing, both government policies and technological solutions are necessary. Innovations, such as devices that reduce bycatch and waste, can contribute to sustainable fishing practices. Current regulations, quotas, and subsidies must be reevaluated to create more sustainable models for the fishing industry.
One promising alternative is the territorial use rights in fisheries management (TURF) system, which provides long-term fishing rights to individuals or collectives in specific areas. Fishermen with TURF have a vested interest in maintaining sustainable fishing practices. This market-driven approach promotes sustainability and is used in countries like Chile, Belize, Denmark, and the United States.
It’s crucial to address overfishing not only for environmental reasons but also for food security. The extinction of major protein sources could lead to increased competition for remaining resources, affecting global stability.
The detrimental consequences of overfishing are not confined to distant waters but can affect us all, making corrective measures essential.
For more from the author of this article, Coty Perry, visit Anglers
The healing powers of adaptive diving
PADI highlights how scuba diving helps enrich and heal lives
This International Disabilities Day (3rd December) PADI is reminding the world of the healing aspects that the ocean (or any body of water) can provide and how important it is for helping those with physical or mental challenges improve their wellbeing. From simply being within close proximity of it or diving beneath the salty surface for an underwater adventure, the ocean has the power to heal.
Regardless of your age, ability, or even limitations, the ocean can benefit us physically, emotionally and even spiritually. This is why PADI is on a mission to make those benefits accessible to all, with their Adaptive Techniques Diving Course in the hope that all of humanity can experience the full transformational power of the ocean.
While many are more familiar with traditional therapies, diving, mermaiding or freediving, has changed the lives of those around the world by connecting with the water and enabled them to conquer mental or physical perceived limitations.
The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course is unique in that it’s a pro-level specialty designed to educate and empower PADI Professionals who wish to make scuba and freediver training more accessible.
Through classroom, confined water and open water workshops, dive professionals further cultivate their ability to be student-centered and prescriptive in approach when adapting techniques to meet diver needs. This hands-on training increases awareness of differing abilities and explores adaptive teaching techniques to apply when training divers with physical and mental challenges. PADI Pros learn to adapt course content to accommodate virtually any student diver.
PADI Members Helping those with Disabilities
This International Disabilities Day PADI highlights a shining example of a member who is championing teaching those with disabilities how to dive.
DiveHeart Empowers Individuals Worldwide Through Adaptive Scuba Programmes
DiveHeart, a PADI Dive Centre founded by PADI Scuba Instructor Jim Elliott in 2001, continues to revolutionise the world of adaptive scuba. Using zero gravity and adaptive scuba, DiveHeart aims to instil confidence, foster independence, and elevate self-esteem among individuals facing physical and cognitive challenges.
DiveHeart has established Adaptive Scuba programmes across North America and the Caribbean and reaches global destinations including Malaysia, Australia, China, Israel, and the UK. Through a combination of donations, grants, and strategic partnerships, DiveHeart ensures inclusivity by providing services to children, veterans, individuals with ALS, autism, and others, irrespective of their abilities or financial means.
A significant milestone in DiveHeart’s journey was the hosting of the inaugural Adaptive Scuba Symposium in 2009, held at the prestigious Our World Underwater event in the Midwest. This pioneering symposium attracted a diverse array of experts, including researchers, physicians, professors, therapists, adaptive dive professionals, and participants from across the globe. The event delved into the current state and the future of adaptive scuba, scuba therapy, the adaptive scuba market, the latest in adaptive scuba training techniques and the latest in scuba therapy research.
At the forefront of adaptive scuba initiatives, DiveHeart offers specialised training courses for certified scuba divers to become adaptive dive buddies. Every diver with a disability is paired with two dive buddies to form a cohesive dive team, ensuring a safe and empowering experience.
DiveHeart further hosts regular pool diving programmes catering to divers of all skill levels nationwide and organises immersive week-long adaptive diving trips to ocean locations like Cozumel, Roatán, and others at least three times annually.
Jim Elliot, the Founder and President of DiveHeart, a scuba diving instructor since 1997, recognised the transformative potential of adaptive diving for individuals with physical disabilities. Witnessing firsthand the holistic benefits encompassing physical fitness, emotional well-being, and mental health, Elliot embarked on a mission to make scuba diving accessible and empowering for all.
DiveHeart remains committed to breaking barriers and creating opportunities for individuals facing challenges, enabling them to explore the vast wonders of the underwater world while unlocking their true potential. For more information on DiveHeart and its impactful initiatives, visit www.diveheart.org
People Who Have Healed from Diving
For people with disabilities—whether they use a wheelchair, have a sight impairment or a neurological condition like cerebral palsy—scuba diving can be a fun activity that offers freedom and mobility in the weightlessness of the water. PADI’s Adaptive Support Diver specialty is a course designed to teach friends and family adaptive techniques for diving with a buddy who has a disability. Many students take the course to support a particular person in their life, and the instructor can work with them on the specific skills they require.
Ryan Chen: Diving to Heal the Mind, Body and Spirit
Ryan is a PADI Open Water Scuba Diver who was in a tragic accident as a teenager that left him paralysed. He found healing and clarity through scuba diving with his dive buddy Kent Yoshimura – so much so that during one scuba diving trip he and Kent ended up creating their current company Neuro Gum – a collection of functional gum and mints that help you get energised, calm or focused that has now led him to be named on Forbes 30 under 30.
“Scuba diving was one of the ways I learned that I can do anything, I just have to do it differently,” Chen says, “Scuba diving is one of those things that can change your whole framework. There’s no cooler feeling than taking that first breath underwater. All of a sudden you have this superpower, to breathe underwater and explore.”
Scuba diving continues to be his physical and mental therapy he continually seeks out amidst his busy entrepreneurial life. Now, with Neuro a national success and leading wellness brand in the United States, Chen has kept up his diving, and remained close to PADI as an organisation. Neuro even has a collaboration with PADI’s coral reef restoration project coming up—a special pack of Neuro, with proceeds going to PADI’s non-profit foundation.
The life of a Great White Shark
The great white shark, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, embodies the apex predator of the ocean. This majestic creature’s life is a testament to survival, adaptability, and the intricate balance of the marine ecosystem.
Born in the waters off coastal regions, a great white shark begins its life as a pup within the safety of nurseries, typically found in warm, shallow waters. The pups, measuring around 5 feet in length at birth, are immediately equipped with an innate instinct for survival.
As they grow, great whites embark on a journey, venturing into deeper and cooler waters, often covering vast distances across the ocean. These apex predators are perfectly adapted hunters, relying on their impressive senses to detect prey. Their acute sense of smell, aided by specialized sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, helps detect the faintest traces of blood in the water from several miles away.
Feeding primarily on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals, great whites are known for their powerful jaws lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Their hunting techniques often involve stealth, utilizing their streamlined bodies to approach prey from below and striking with incredible speed and force.
Despite their fearsome reputation, great whites play a crucial role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. As top predators, they help regulate the population of prey species, preventing overpopulation that could disrupt the balance of the food chain.
Reproduction among great white sharks is a slow and careful process. Females reach sexual maturity between 12 and 18 years of age, while males mature earlier, around 9 to 10 years old. Mating occurs through complex courtship rituals, with females giving birth to a small number of live pups after a gestation period of about 12 to 18 months.
However, the life of a great white shark is not without challenges. Human activities, including overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction, pose significant threats to their population. Additionally, despite their formidable presence, great whites are vulnerable and face dangers from entanglement in fishing gear and accidental bycatch.
Despite these challenges, great white sharks continue to inspire awe and fascination among scientists and nature enthusiasts. Their presence in the ocean serves as a reminder of the delicate balance and interconnectedness of marine life, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations to admire and study.
Want to learn more about sharks? Visit The Shark Trust website: www.sharktrust.org
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