Dangers Overfishing in the Oceans Pose on Marine Food Chain

For generations, fishing in the oceans has provided us an endless supply of food. But with major technological advances in the fishing industry, the problem of overfishing has become a continuing concern. Besides the apparent acidification of the oceans (brought about by climate change, certain agricultural practices, and deforestation, among others), overfishing is a concern of World Oceans Day, which is celebrated throughout the world on or around June 8 every year.

The objectives of World Oceans Day 2009 celebration, for instance, were summed up in four exhortations: “Change attitudes,” “Learn,” “Change our ways,” and “Celebrate.” All these were meant to address the problem of overfishing in the oceans, which is threatening not only our food resources, but also those of the other creatures’, such as the seabirds, whales, and seals.

Here are some clear examples of how the fishing industry technology, which has vastly progressed over the last fifty years, causes overfishing in the oceans: Huge nets, such as trawls, trap vast numbers of fish; schools of fish are easily tracked by radar equipment; large seagoing vessels stay at sea for weeks, catching and processing quantities of fish; and marine communication allows several ships to participate in a fishing operation.

Since fish processing (such as freezing and canning) can be done at sea, fishing ships can undertake extensive fishing operations as they are able to venture farther from shore and remain out in the oceans for weeks. Such rampant fishing operations can thus be equated with overfishing.

With overfishing, some of the most important fishing sites in the world have vanished. In addition, smaller fish are caught as fish meal and used either as animal food or fertilizer. If these are not abated, breeding adults may disappear; worse, many species may become extinct.

The annual celebration of World Oceans Day aims to make people aware that overfishing in the oceans – and the eventual loss of fish stock – endangers the future of the entire marine food chain. Proper management of the fish population is, therefore, necessary. For instance, the fishing industry should limit its catches to the number or quantity of fish that can be replaced by reproduction in the following year.

It has been found that fish populations maintained at just below maximum numbers produce the greatest number of young fish. It is necessary to fix quotas for catches to keep the fish populations at such a level. Nets of the correct mesh size should be used to ensure that only fish of the right age are caught; this will also help to avoid accidentally catching other fish.

Protecting the oceans against overfishing certainly needs the cooperation and agreement of every nation in the world to limit catches, as well as in using only those fishing methods that do not damage fish stocks. The World Oceans Day celebration hopes to accomplish these goals and see an end to the problem of overfishing in the oceans.


1. “‘The End Of The Line’?  Imagine a world without fish…”, Greenpeace UK (online) – http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/oceans/the-end-line-imagine-world-without-fish20090121

2. “Overfishing”, on the Grinning Planet (online) – http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/06-07/overfishing-article.htm

3. “World Oceans Day – June 8”, on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (online) – http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/events-evenements/oceansday-journeedesoceans/index-eng.htm