In GCSE Geography students will look at overfishing . This is caused by exploiting a resource too far and is responsible for endangering many species of fish whose stocks are now perilously low.
Overfishing occurs when more fish of a particular species are caught than can be replaced through natural reproduction. More than 85% of the world’s species of fish have been pushed beyond their biological limits. Many have been pushed to the point of extinction, or near extinction, by fishing. 70% of the world's fish species are no longer any use to fisheries as their stocks are so low that there are too few of them to be a viable catch.
Catching as many fish as possible may seem like a good way to maximise profits, but the results affect not only species in the oceans, but also have an economic and cultural impact on the communities that depend on fish for their survival.
The first example of overfishing came from the harvesting of a whales (not a fish species it’s important to note!) in the 1800s, endangering their numbers. Another example occurred in the mid-1900s, when sardines on the west coast of America were harvested almost to extinction. It is estimated that industrial fishing has removed 90% of the fish from the seas and rivers. Some species have been driven to extinction and many are hanging on - but only just. It is likely that by 2048 fish stocks will be so low that there will be no commercially viable species left to fish in the world. The oceans and rivers will be close to dead.
1 in 5 people rely on fish as their main protein source, whilst 200 million people earn their living by fishing. Stopping fishing is an impractical solution at this time, but there are few viable alternatives. Fish farming can assist, as can systems such as aquaponics in which the fish are grown in ponds and their waste products are used to grow plants. But all this is just a small step in saving fish. As well as commercial fishing on an industrial scale, there is also a large amount of illegal and unregulated fishing.
Have a go at this quiz and see how much you know about how overfishing is endangering life in the oceans.