Advancements in tools and techniques have enabled humans to get the most out of ocean resources. As a result, fishing has become a very lucrative enterprise for many small and large businesses. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, global fish production reached 171 million tons in 2016.
But several public and private sector stakeholders have expressed concern over the excessive depletion of fish and other marine resources. At the same time, these same stakeholders also want to accommodate the interests of people who depend on the ocean for their livelihood.
This is where the concept of sustainable fishing may prove to be a viable framework for realistic solutions.
The Principles of Sustainable Fishing
The ultimate goal is to make sure that there are enough fish left while safeguarding the livelihoods of people in the fishing community. To achieve that, there are three guiding principles to follow:
- Ensure sustainable fish stocks. No matter where they are located, fish populations must be given sufficient time and space to reproduce and be healthy.
- Reduce pressures on the environment. Fishing activities can also have a negative impact on other marine life and their habitats. Individual fishers and businesses must carefully consider the factors that contribute to environmental degradation.
- Implement effective fisheries management. Another thing to consider is the prevailing laws and policies that govern the conduct of fishing. Do such rules and guidelines consider the environmental impact of human activities?
Issues That Need to Be Addressed
With improved fishing tools and approaches, fishermen can easily catch so many fish in a single excursion out in the open sea. But if it’s done all too frequently, fish don’t have a chance to replenish their numbers. Hence, overfishing occurs.
Some examples of unsustainable fishing methods include purse seining. It involves casting a wide net under fishing boats, and it can capture thousands of fish. Longlining makes use of several baited hooks that are attached to a long line in the water.
Another critical problem resulting from these activities is bycatch fishing, which is essentially the unintended capture of younger fish and other marine species.
Sustainable Fishing in Practice
Whether it be reeling in fish with your Daiwa electric reel or attaching LED lights to shrimping nets to discourage other fish from approaching, there are different ways to practice sustainable fishing. Pacific islander communities that rely heavily on fishing focus on capturing one fish at a time. Experienced fishers would either dive underwater or hurl a spear toward a specific fish. Such fishing methods have existed for thousands of years and are still practiced today.
Rod-and-reel fishing is a more modern method, but it also results in significantly less overfishing and bycatch. If non-targeted species are caught, they can be easily released back into the ocean or sea. Compared to longlining, rod-and-reel is a more sustainable approach to fishing because only one fish is caught at any given time.
More communities and industries can benefit from applying sustainable fishing. When implementing such practices, it’s important to consider the interests of various stakeholders to achieve mutual agreement and full cooperation.