As one of the world’s oldest and most enjoyed pastimes, fishing has been a useful tool in linking generations by ties of pursuing a mutual goal. Thousands of years ago, humankind used fishing to support growing civilizations and trade with neighboring groups. Today, fishing has split into two different categories: commercial and recreational. Commercial fishing, an industry as old as mankind itself, is extremely profitable. In 2011 alone, recreational and commercial saltwater fishing generated $199 billion in the United States alone. These industries create over 1.7 million jobs through harvesting, retail, processing, etc.
One of the largest issues within the fishing industry today is the tragic mismanagement of fishing populations worldwide. Countries such as Japan, China, and even the United States are flagrantly over-fishing in the Pacific Ocean. Little respect for the conservation of the common good, as well as future generations, is causing the world’s fisheries to deplete at a rate more rapidly than ever before. The current global fleet of fishing boats is two to three times larger than the world can sustain. Vessels and corporations are overlooking the rules and guidelines of sustainable fishing, as well as disregarding common ethics of sustainability. The rules of harvest themselves are immensely outdated; technology today gives us a tragic look at what past generations of fishing have done to the world’s supply of fish. The depletion of fisheries is also intensified by the effects of global climate change, which is confirmed to affect fish populations.
Fishing is an industry where sustainability should be incentivized. When a fishery is depleted, those who harvest from it will suffer lower profits and higher costs. Not only do those who harvest from that fishery suffer, but those who depend on them such as wholesalers will be unable to meet demand. Over-fishing is a lose-lose situation. One of the major reasons that populations are over-fished is the use of grossly destructive equipment such as bottom trawls and gigantic nets. If people would use more effective equipment, they could target species more accurately and increase sustainability.
There is no quick solution to over-fishing, one of the major economic situations of the 21st Century. Many people have their own opinions on how to reach a level of fishing where man is no longer depleting the ocean of its stock. The most popular solution is the establishment of an organization or governing body that can regulate the amount of harvest in certain key fishing regions such as the West Pacific Ocean, a popular destination for big eye tuna. One thing is for certain, the over-harvest that is currently occurring will be the demise of the entire fishing industry. If nations that depend on the fishing industry as one of their main economic resources do not act quickly, their economies could potentially enter a recession. Changes need to come within the next decade, because experts claim that the world could run out of harvest-worthy seafood before 2048. A great goal in the next decade would be to reduce the percentage of over-exploited fish stocks from over 85% to under 50%. This change will allow agencies and conservation organizations more time to address the global fishing crisis.