By Paige Arden
Cutting fish out of one’s diet may seem like the best thing to do, either for health reasons or out of empathy for the fish. While those are two strong reasons to change the way one eats, the most important reason is often marginalized in an attempt to emphasize the fishes’ struggle. However, if the masses cut fish out of their diet entirely, the effect on the environment would be massive.
The fishing industry has done so much damage, especially in recent years, on the environment that there needs to be an increased awareness surrounding the fact. If people advocate and understand just how dire the situation in the oceans have become, there would be the possibility of change. Improvements must be made to restore the ocean to its former glory and stop the needless killing of trillions of defenseless sea creatures.
Overfishing is one of the biggest issues. Approximately 2.7 trillion sea creatures are extracted from the oceans each year. This means that around 75% of the world’s fisheries are currently either majorly exploited or completely depleted. The sad truth is that humans are killing the ocean wildlife at a pace that can not be matched by their reproductive skills. “Exotic” animals are being caught and put on a menu with an expensive price attached to their name.
Not only that, but the killing of large ocean predators like whales and sharks are going extinct. Ninety percent of them are either dead due to the way humans are affecting the climate or because of how they are being killed for show. One hundred million sharks are killed by humans each and every year. This is a devastating number, and it is this loss of species at the top of the food chain means a collapse of the entire ecosystem.
This is bad enough without even taking into consideration the plastic problem. The fishing industry is responsible for the largest amount of oceanic plastic pollution. Fishing nets aline comprise 40% of the plastic found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Without a demand for the product that is fish, there would be no reason to continue to pollute the ocean with these nets.
It is estimated that 40-55 billion pounds of fish are taken out of the ocean annually, with the sole purpose of being killed and thrown back in because they are not fit for sale. As much as thirty percent of all of the fish caught are fed to livestock. It has been noted that pigs as a species eat more fish than sharks.
While it is humans as a whole who are killing the environment and the fishing industry is not entirely at fault for the damage done to the ocean in recent years, it certainly is hurting far more than it is helping. When fish are being killed just for their carcasses to be thrown back into the ocean or to be eaten by livestock who are then going to be slaughtered and sold, what is supporting the fishing industry even doing? It might seem harmless to have a piece of cod with some fries or a piece of salmon in some sushi, but it is that very demand for fish that is causing entire ecosystems to collapse. It is only when people work together to stop viewing seafood as food that the ocean in its entirety can possibly hope to survive.