What is sustainability?
Sustainability is a balanced approach to using a resource that maintains its volume, diversity, habitat, and supporting ecosystems indefinitely. Fisheries are harvests; they can be populations of one or more species of sea life; governments and private groups have used this concept to manage stocks in broad regions of the world. One should not forget that worldwide nearly 500 million people earn their livelihoods by farming or from selling wild caught fish.
The threats to sustainable harvesting are the effects of overfishing, climate change, and pollution, as further described in the items below.
– What is Overfishing?
This practice is a primary threat to lasting food supply; ecosystems fall out of balance when people remove too many of a species or types of species from the food chain.
– Global Warming
Climate change can affect the environments and ecosystems that support wild populations. Climate change is gradually heating the world’s oceans, and many changes that reduce fragile habitat come with warming such as loss of coral reefs.
Water and air pollution are forces like climate change that makes the oceans and other waterways less habitable for aquatic life. Mercury is an example. Water pollution shows in the tissues of many species, and it affects their ability to reproduce.
Harmful fish technique includes destructive patterns of harvesting that reduce stocks and can potentially wipe out some types of fish. Trawling on the sea beds can change habitat. Excessive harvesting can reduce stocks when fishers take more animals than the rate of reproduction can replace over time. Then, as the excessive harvesting continues, the population diminishes and the average size, weight, and volume of the harvest drops. The reduced harvest often triggers more intensive harvesting and thus a cycle of destruction gains momentum. Excessive harvests can put a species in danger of collapse.
Sport Fishers Lead the Way
Sports fishers have adapted to the needs of sustainability. They have been early adopters and persistent followers of rules and techniques aimed at preserving trophy and game populations. There is a fortunate alignment of interests between sports fishers and sustainability. They go hand in hand because the effects of excessive harvests will destroy the sport. Anglers understand that if we are to have sports angling in the future, then we must practice sustainable techniques today.
Sports angling methods today could yield much higher harvests than it does in actual practice. Sports fishers use sustainable practices and voluntary restraint. The advanced equipment and electronics in use today support highly effective angling techniques. By sticking to the rules on limits and using best practices to catch and release, sports anglers work with official conservation agencies for a common purpose.
Sustainable fishing techniques today take advantage of the new electronics and technological advances. Rather than keep a trophy Black Marlin, many anglers record the event and can podcast it for current and future viewing. Video is another small but significant encouragement to catch the big ones and release them.
Regulation is the ultimate step in carrying out conservation methods. Effective overfishing solutions require cooperation and understanding that it is everyone’s interest to preserve species and maintain the necessary balance of food stock and predator species.
Some rules protect species, and other rules protect areas by reducing or blocking legal angling. These restricted areas can foster rebuilding of a depleted species. Restrictions also protect valuable Blue Water and coastal areas that could be disrupted by commercial operations.
Nowhere are the impacts of overfishing seen so dramatically as in the large-scale commercial fishing fleets. Ocean harvests are vital parts of the economies of many Asian nations; they supply staples of diet and important cultural traditions. The consumer demand for the ocean harvests are insistent, high volume, and growing.
To meet demand, modern commercial fleets use large-scale harvesting techniques in which every creature in a designated trawling area can get caught in traps, seines, and nets. Not only does this practice tend to decimate target species, it unavoidably captures and destroys unintended species. Sea turtles, sharks, and snakes can get caught and destroyed by commercial nets aimed at food stock species like tuna, trout, whitefish, and tilapia.
The impacts of excessive harvesting come mostly from the commercial sector, and the primary part of the threat are commercial nets, small boats, and trawlers that scrape the bottoms and change the habitat and ecosystems. Fisheries management can sustain some degree of overharvesting before causing a collapse of a population, and intense harvesting puts popular species at great risk of collapse from other causes like disease and pollution.
Conservation and Bycatch
Conservation is a major theme of sustainable food chains. This applies to sports angling in which catch and release is a helpful addition. Catch and release must be done with proper care to be effective. The anglers cannot overhandle the fish, affect natural coatings, or keep them out of the water too long.
Bycatch is a far bigger problem than failed releases; commercial fishers both large and small scale often capture species they do not want, cannot sell, and sometimes may not legally possess. The resulting destruction of so many sea creatures must be avoided to the maximum extent feasible. The loss of millions of tons from bycatch reduces the numbers of animals left to breed and reproduce.
A Challenge We Cannot Ignore
The world’s population is growing, and we add a billion new souls so much faster than ever before. They will want to eat and survive, and hundreds of millions will get animal protein primarily from freshwater species or seafood. The oceans and inland waters offer an amazing variety and abundance of different kinds of fish. If freshwater and ocean foods are to remain a sustainable nutrition source, then the world must adapt to methods to conserve the resources. We must find ways to cooperate on harvesting and employ sports techniques that avoid waste and preserve the resource for future generations.
The fishing industry must play a major role in sustainable solutions. The fishers, farmers, and processor businesses are important employers and providers of nutrition. Industry cooperation will determine whether there will be a sustainable seafood supply chain.
Given the interrelationships between overfishing, world food supplies, and the reach of commercial harvesting, the sustainability strategy must also have an international scope. The strategy must include wild catch harvesting, aquaculture, and sports fishing methods.
Anglers must adapt to contribute to maintaining a vital ecosystem for all aquatic species. The steps can be simple but have a dramatic effect. For example, sports fishers that convert from gas and oil powered craft to electric and manual craft help reduce water pollution and toxins that negatively affect wildlife. There are many positive trends in sports angling such as the movement towards the increased use of the non-polluting fishing kayak.