Overfishing

The Lonely Fin A limp fin surrounded with a pool of red, hot blood floats around in the cold, dark ocean. Large cruise ships and fishermen pass, yet it still lays in solitude. However, soon it will be joined by millions of other fish. Lack of Law Enforcement Regarding Overfishing Unfortunately, overfishing is an environmental concern that many often neglect. There are few regulations for overfishing and often times, even the few that there are, are not enforced. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) should encourage lawmakers to improve the dire situation by imposing strict limitations to prevent excessive fishing from happening. An Ongoing Crisis People are overfishing at an alarming rate which causes a dramatic drop in varying aquatic organisms. With a lack of prey, predator populations are also falling, disrupting the stability of ocean ecosystems. According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, over the course of a mere forty years, the amount of marine life has plummeted by 39%. The staggering fall of marine life may not seem like a big deal, however it will take a massive toll on the global economy. In 2016, the seafood industry accounted for $120.85 billion and is predicted to exceed $155.32 billion in 2023. If the world ran out of fish, can you imagine the catastrophic effects it would have on the billion dollar industry? Despite the ignorance surrounding overfishing, this calamity is closer than most anticipate. Back in 2009, nine species of fish, including the black sea bass, were almost fished to extinction in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Calculating losses from the black sea bass alone, the region lost approximately a total of $138 million. To prevent disasters like this, penalties and laws must be implemented. Preventing Overfishing Currently in the U.S., there are annual catch limits (ACL) set by NOAA on the amount one can fish sustainably. The problem arises when these ACLs are not properly enforced and the continuous lack of laws in regards to overfishing. In 2018, the only law in place to fight overfishing was weakened and practically overturned by the H.R. 200 Bill. This bill simply unravels all of the progress towards fish conservation by weakening current ACLs, threatening the reconstruction of oceanic ecosystems, and undermining vital scientific research that play significant roles in stopping overfishing. Sadly, these laws are extremely helpful in preventing overfishing. In a similar set of circumstances, the European Union posed regulations and catch limits over the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and Baltic Sea. The new limitations are also being strictly monitored throughout the continent. Ever since the law was passed, 53 out of 76 fish stocks are sustainably caught, compared to past statistics of only 5 out of 76 species. There has also been an immense growth of fish species, such as the Northern Hake with an incredible increase of 700% of its population in 2006. The Dead Ocean In the fight to stop overfishing, NOAA must be the lobbyist in this movement to draft penalties and laws for violating fishing limits. Compromising is not an option and it is NOAA's responsibility to be the one voice uniting all supporters to stop overfishing. NOAA needs to urge governments to recognize overfishing as a consequential matter and the fact that immediate action is crucial. Excessive fishing is unnecessary and must be monitored. If we continue in our current state, it will not be long before the ocean is completely deprived of life.

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Mike Lyles

Author of “The Drive-Thru is Not Always Faste...

Staresville, United States