There has been global attention on the factory farming of livestock for quite some time now. With the recent releases of documentaries like Food, Inc. and Cowspiracy, people are becoming more aware of the inhumane methods used by American food producers to make as much meat as possible, and as quickly as they can. Their sole concern is to make the maximum profit at the most minimal cost. The major corporations race to meet their demands at the cost of exploiting their workers, their livestock, and of course, the environment.
The environmental effects of these factory farms are astounding, being that it is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But there has always been very little attention paid to the global marine population, and it is probably one of the most urgent environmental crises of our time.
A report by the World Wildlife Fund indicated a more than 52 percent decline in global marine populations in the past 40 years alone and in that time, over 90 percent of large fish, like tuna and swordfish, have been removed from our oceans. These fish have gone from being plentiful to becoming endangered in a period of less than half a century. It has become a never-ending domino effect that will have rippling effects on our oceans and the rest of the environment.
All of this is due to overfishing worldwide. There are billions of people that depend on fish as their major source of protein, and as the human population continues to grow, more and more people become dependent of fish for food security.
The ocean first started showing signs of its depletion in the late 1890’s, but it has always been ignored by fishermen. As long as fishermen are able to make a catch, they resist the fact that the populations are rapidly declining, but they are now finding themselves at the end of their fishing spree. Just like the huge factory farming corporations, the fishermen that make the catches to be sold worldwide are also meeting their demands at the expense of exploiting their workers, their catches, and by exploiting the environment.
Fishermen look to catch as much fish as possible, and the only way for them to do so is by using massive equipment. They use trawlers that have enormous nets reaching the ocean floor and trapping everything in their path. What is left behind is a desert. Everything that the fishermen catch but don’t need is called “bycatch,” and it is all thrown overboard, but everything is already dead by the time they do.
Since fishermen are so aggressive in their tactics, fish are being caught before they reach sexual maturity. They are not able to reproduce at the same rate as they are being caught, only making the populations decline faster. The marine ecosystem is delicately intertwined and the loss of just one species leads to the loss of other many more.
Species like sharks, seals, sea turtles, and more are all affected by the loss of fish. Even coral reefs are dying out, where most fish live. It has rippling effects on our oceans and the rest of the environment.
The global human population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050, meaning fishing methods must become more aggressive to keep up with that growing demand. If nothing is done to slow down fishing, the entire marine population will become extinct by 2050, leading to an even greater destabilization of food chains and to the natural habitats of other species.