Dealing with a fishy situation

Fish populations will collapse within the next fifty years, a new study concluded.

According to a study released last week, worldwide fish populations are in serious decline and could collapse by 2048. As human populations have increased and the demand for fish has skyrocketed, the commercial fishing industry has exerted too much pressure on fish populations. We are now at a crucial junction where measures must be taken to ensure the protection of this valuable resource.

The study, which was published in “Science,” reports that seafood production is already declining rapidly. Last year’s harvest of seafood was 10.6 million metric tons less than in 1994. All seafood that is harvested commercially will be depressed to a potentially irreparable level in the next 50 years.

Being unable to purchase a Filet-O-Fish sandwich at your favorite fast food restaurant is upsetting, but the study implies a more devastating impact on the world community. Currently, a billion people depend on seafood as their main source of protein, and more than 200 million people earn most of their income from the fishing industry. World economies will also be affected by the decline of an industry that generates $80 billion per year.

The study certainly sounds like doom and gloom, but this information is coming forth with enough time to act. If we can change our fishing practices now, we will be able to preserve this valuable industry for years to come.

Some recent studies have looked into methods for rehabilitating fisheries. The answer could depend on aiding the health of ecosystems rather than specific types of fish. One study found that biodiversity rapidly increased by 23 percent in the absence of fishing. Even more surprising was that fishermen working in areas near the protected region saw their catch increase by a factor of four.

Saving the world’s seafood will require an international effort of collaboration and strict regulations. It’s not too late, but it will only get worse if we wait to act. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime, says an old proverb, but sadly, it isn’t so simple anymore.