4 ways fishing is affecting the planet
- Ruining the seabed
- Bottom trawling is one of the most successful methods of catching fish in the sea. It works by dragging a large weighted net along the seabed, which scoops up all the fish that are unlucky enough to be in its way. The problem is, it doesn’t just catch fish - it also destroys everything that lives on the ocean floor. The nets are fitted with rollers called rock hoppers which crash into the corals that are home to thousands of different species of fish and other marine life. It’s a bit like trying to justify knocking down your neighbour's house just because you want some fish fingers.
- Emptying the sea
- There are a lot of humans on the planet and we’re getting increasingly greedy for fish. In 2011, we caught and farmed 154 million tonnes of fish - 17 million tonnes more than were caught in 2006. But excessive fishing not only reduces the number of fish in the ocean now, it also lowers numbers for the future - because it ruins the natural breeding grounds of the fish, meaning that they can’t reproduce to replace the ones that have been caught. And this is having devastating effects on communities who don’t just want fish but actually need it to survive - particularly in the coastal areas of Africa - since global warming has made it harder for those communities to grow crops or raise healthy livestock.
- Damaging the ecosystem
- If we overfish the seas, it won’t just affect the number of tuna sandwiches we can have - it will affect lots of other animals. We’re not the only ones in the food chain and less fish means less to eat for their predators, which means they might start to die out too. This could have a huge impact on the ocean’s ecosystem. Already we’ve managed to lose 90% of the world’s large fish - and that’s happened in only 60 years! How much longer can we hang on to the remaining 10% if we keep up our fishing habits?
- Warming the earth
- Our oceans naturally help us to fight climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. We call this the carbon cycle - like when a jellyfish converts the carbon from its food into poo which then drops down to the bottom of the ocean. But because we’re polluting and overfishing our seas, we’re ruining their ability to absorb as much CO2 as they should. And that’s bad news for the whole planet.
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