Today is World Environment Day! This year’s theme is Think. Eat Save. As the United Nations Environment Programme website states, “Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.”
So how does Think. Eat. Save affect oceans? Fish are an important component of billions of people’s diets, and for a very long time it seemed the oceans had a never ending supply of fish. However, years of fishing practices that take in too much catch and waste many fish in the process have taken their toll, and many types of fish are severely depleted. The current methods of over-fishing are unsustainable, and unless we change our practices and consumption habits, certain species will disappear from the oceans.
To learn more about the overfishing problem, check out overfishing.org, a website that splits up the issue into four concrete questions: What is overfishing? Why is overfishing a problem? What can I do to help? Where can I find answers? The site offers up four basic tenets that they think every long-term successful and sustainable fishery should have:
Every long-term successful and sustainable fishery, near-shore or high-seas, needs to be managed according to some basic ground rules:
- Safe catch limits
A constantly reassessed, scientifically determined, limit on the total number of fish caught and landed by a fishery. Politics and short time economical incentives should have no role in this.
- Controls on bycatch
The use of techniques or management rules to prevent the unintentional killing and disposal of fish, crustaceans and other oceanic life not part of the target catch or landed.
- Protection of pristine and important habitats
The key parts in ecosystems need full protection from destructive fisheries; e.g. the spawning and nursing grounds of fish, delicate sea floor, unique unexplored habitats, and corals.
- Monitoring and Enforcement
A monitoring system to make sure fishermen do not land more than they are allowed to, do not fish in closed areas and cheat as less as possible. Strong monetary enforcement is needed to make it uneconomic to cheat.
For for information on overfishing, check out the National Geographic site. It follows a timeline from when we first recognized an overfishing problem to when scientists suspect stocks of certain fish will be completely depleted if we keep fishing and consuming at the same rate.