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Overfishing is catching too much fish, leading to an overall degradation to the system. It is fishing beyond a level when the polulation cannot replace itself through natural reproduction. It is a global problem as millions of people worldwide are depending on the oceans for their daily livelihoods.


Why should I be aware of this?

Scientists have estimated that if the current trends in over-fishing continues, the world's fish and seafood populations will collapse by 2048. [1] This would mean less food for humans.

As human population grows, so does the Demand for ocean resources grows with the growth of human population. With an estimated 50 percent of the world's population living within 124 miles of the coast, the increase in demand for food is naturally met by the closest abundant resource, the sea.

Over-fishing and health

Public health is greatly affected by sewage discharge and agricultural run off into lagoons and coastal waters.

The pollution thus caused leads to an increase in algal blooms, many of which are toxic. The accumulation of these toxins in fish and shellfish through the food chain can result in ciguatera poisoning in humans.

Ciguatera poisoning is manifested by diarrhoea, gastrointestinal pain and nausea in people who eat the contaminated fish.

Over-fishing and environment

Population growth has moved population to coastal cities which pollute same waters we pull our food resources from. Coastal pollution is caused by building, agriculture and industrial runoff, burning of fossil fuels, and disposal of human and animal waste. These are carried by ground water, surface water, and atmospheric deposition. Oil spills is one of the biggest causes of toxic pollution in the marine environment. It poses the most serious risk to our marine life and that maintaining integrity and health of the coastal environment is vital to sustain marine and human life.

All about over-fishing

Fishing vessels used in modern fishing, comprising giant ships using state-of –the-art-fish-finding sonar, far out-match nature's ability to replenish fish. Equipped with fish processing and packing plants, huge freezing systems, and powerful engines to drag enormous fishing gear through the ocean. They don’t give the fish a chance.

Different kinds of solutions surrounding possible overfishing and other commercial fishing problems have been debated for a long time and as a result different maritime laws have been enacted. But in spite of these laws, many species have been harvested so much that their numbers have been severely depleted

More than 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Despite that fact that each region has its Regional Sea Conventions, and some 108 governments and the European Commission have adopted the UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities, oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests.


  • In the western central Atlantic, the northeast Atlantic, the eastern central Atlantic and the western Indian Ocean, more than 95% of fish stocks cannot sustain any further expansion in fishing.
  • The introduction of industrialized fishing has removed 90% of the populations of large predatory fish, such as sharks, tuna, and marlin, from the oceans.
  • Some species, such as the bull, dusky, and smooth hammerhead sharks in the North Atlantic, have declined as much as 99% in the past 30 years.
  • The loss of other predators, such as groundfish species, has also altered the composition of the remaining catches. For example, the decline of Argentine hake in the southwest Atlantic has been accompanied by the increase in the catch of shortfin squid.
  • Declines in bottom dwelling fishes in the northwest Atlantic have resulted in increases in catches of mollusks and crustaceans.[2]


Overfishing Video


  • Overfishing - A global disaster
  • Overfishing: A threat to marine biodiversity
  • Protecting our ocean resources: Overfishing


  1. Overfishing may wipe seafood off menu
  2. Too few fish