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Draw in The Fishing Line
“Jacques Cartier was amazed by the large number of fish his ships caught in the Grand Banks when he arrived in what is now Canada in 1534. He called the Grand Banks terra dos baccalaos, which in Portuguese means ‘land of the cod’”, writes Graham Beehag in his book, Fishing. But that was then, and this is now. Studies show that there are several fish such as the cod, salmon, anchoveta, herring, and several other species that have dropped in number drastically during the recent years. Over fishing is an issue that people need to be aware of. Little by little, we obliterate our environment without even knowing it.
Facing the Issues…
The fishing industry is needed and vital for the Canadian economy. It has always been imperative to the Atlantic Provinces however; the practice of over fishing in the ocean for many years is causing a great decline in the industry. Many of these problems associated with over fishing have been caused in the last 50 years by the rapid advances in fishing technology. There used to be hundreds of trawlers and fishing boats based at ports, but these have now been replaces by huge factory ships which are able to stay out at sea for weeks of time. These factory boats have all the equipment necessary either to freeze or tin fish caught by their hunting ships, so that they need to return to base only when their holds are full.
With the new factory boats, there was a 7% growth in catches every year during the 1950s and 60s, but ever since then there has been little increase in the catch size, and at least 20 of the world’s most important fisheries have disappeared in the last 25 years, with many more suffering so badly from over fishing that they are unlikely to recover.
As catches have gradually become smaller, so the mesh sizes used in fishing nets have decreased, allowing smaller and smaller fish to be caught. Many of them are too small to be used as food; therefore, they are crushed and made into animal food or fertilizer.
The use of nets while fishing is indiscriminate. Any fish, which gets in the way of the net, will be caught in it if they are too big to get through the mesh. For every one-ton of prawns caught, three tons of other fish are killed and thrown away.
Over fishing of a particular species does not only damage the entire population of the fish but also the other animals further up the food chain. For example, the herring is a vital prey species for the cod. Therefore, when herring are over fished the cod population suffers as well.
Fighting the predicament…
Urgent action is needed to change fishing practices. In the Pacific, coastal communities are losing their most precious resources to over fishing. Pirates are left free to plunder while distant water fishing nations are exhausting this last remaining relatively healthy fishery. The dramatic decline in the amount of cod in the oceans surrounding Canada has come to the attention of the government. A moratorium, the temporary suspension of an activity, was imposed upon the fishing of cod more than 10 years ago. The purpose of the moratorium is to give the fish stocks time to regenerate and become sustainable for future generations. It will be a couple of years before the codfish revive successfully in order to allow sustainable fishing to continue. The numbers of cod in the Atlantic are increasing, but not as fast as was hoped. It will be some years before the stock has revived sufficiently to allow sustainable fishing to continue.
Aquaculture, the farming of fish and seafood, offers new prosperity for residents of rural, coastal and offshore fishing. Although it is a relatively new industry, it has grown at a steady pace of 20 percent each year since 1986. It is found in every province and territory in Canada, including in 16 aboriginal communities. The key products include farmed salmon, trout, Arctic char, blue mussels and oysters. Aquaculture helps produce fish without having to empty the oceans of them.
This however is not enough. We need to do more to ensure the safety of the over fished. Properly maintained fisheries could and should be renewable and possibly even endless supply of protein. At the present, short-term economic pressures are preventing sensible long term planning for a sustainable yield that is, only taking out as many fish as can be replaced by reproduction the following year.
Quotas should be set on catches, based on scientific estimates for the size of the fish stock. Correct mesh size should be used in all nets to ensure that fish of the right age are caught, and to prevent as much as possible accidental catches of other fish. International agreements limit catches are necessary to safeguard fish stocks for the use not only of humans but for marine animals as well. With these measures in place, fishing could continue without damaging stocks, and we could employ the world’s richest source of protein to everyone’s advantage.
We must do what we can to secure our marine ecosystems. It will take a lot of work and time but all efforts are needed. With the passing of more strict laws prohibiting the catch of the cod and other endangered fish, we might have a chance of a brighter, more sustainable future. We have to convince people of the severity of this issue. Make them open their eyes to the problems facing us. Teach the ignorant. We have to do whatever we can to protect the fish. Someone once said, “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” That is what we should be doing.
Bates, Jr., J. D. (2007). Fishing. Encyclopedia Americana. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from Grolier Online http://ea.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0157720-00
Beehag, Graham (2007). Fishing . Calgary : Weigl Eduacation Publishers Limited.
fishing. (2007). Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from Grolier Online http://gme.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0106900-0
Gorman, B. (2007). fishing industry. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from Grolier Online http://gme.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0106910-0
White, S. L. (2007). Fishing. The New Book of Knowledge®. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from Grolier Online http://nbk.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=a2010330-h
Wiese, B. (2007). Aquaculture. The New Book of Knowledge®. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from Grolier Online http://nbk.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=a2001290-h