Humans are the self-proclaimed “owners” of the Earth, colonizing the habitat of 8.7 million species and endangering them in the most dangerous ways. “We are humans, intelligent and the most dangerous animal” on the planet. We have killed more animals than any other species, destroyed more ecosystems than any other animal and have caused other species to go extinct. We are the humans, “The killing machines” of planet earth. Since the beginning of life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago, numerous species of creatures such as dinosaurs have gone extinct due to natural disasters on the planet. The mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs, as well as all the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs, accompanied them. Since the advent of humans, at least 150-200 species of plants, insects, birds, and mammals are going extinct every 24 hours. The pace is approximately 1000 times faster than normal, and it is unlike anything the world has seen since the Cretaceous period between 145.5 and 65 million years ago. Over 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are thought to be gone. The ocean spans 71% of the earth's surface, while the fishing sector accounts for 80% of the value of exploited marine resources. Our sugar coated lives are plenished with the luxury of various kinds of foods, most of which comes from killing the innocent lifeforms by merely just existing in their habitat. We live in their homes, wear their skin, eat them and their food and claim rights on things which were never ours to begin with. The consequences of all these are far reaching, making the Earth hollow from inside and taking its life from it.
One of the most precarious threats to our ocean is our lack of knowledge. How are we, our oceans, and our water affected by industrial seafood activity? What influence does seafood consumption have on the environment? When we eat unsustainable seafood, it has a variety of consequences for our seas. The fish business, habitat degradation, and plastic pollution are three of the most often overlooked links.
The Effect of fishing practices on Marine Life
When industrialized fishing vessels remove more seafood from the sea than the people can replenish, this is known as overfishing. Getting as much seafood as possible may seem like a good idea at the time, but overfishing is a bad idea in the long run. Thousands of fisheries are on the verge of exceeding this limit. A trophic cascade can be triggered by threatened and endangered species. When an ecosystem loses too many individuals of a single organism, the creatures that rely on it for sustenance, get hungry. If the missing creature is a predator, its prey population explodes, depleting the prey's food supply. This vicious cycle will continue until the ecology is completely depleted.
Overfishing not only causing imbalance to our oceans, but is also killing it.
Because of the substantial harmful impacts on seas, several fishing activities have been rendered banned. However, not all harmful fishing techniques are prohibited everywhere. Various sorts of gear are prohibited in different nations, regions, and states. When these rules are broken, it can have serious consequences for the environment. Fishermen and industrial fishing organizations may, for example, resort to immature fish that are under the legal size limit in an overfished region. This prevents the population of that species of fish from increasing. If this cycle continues, the region may eventually be devoid of fish, if not all life.
When fisheries catch fish that aren't the target species, this is known as by-catch. By-catch is sometimes discarded by fishermen, who then toss the damaged creatures back into the sea. In many fisheries, just half of the fish caught is kept! By-catch is sometimes kept by fishing enterprises because it is valuable. Shark fins, for example, are highly prized, thus when a shark is taken as a by-catch, its fins are often cut and retained, resulting in the shark's death. Shrimp fisheries, which take up to six pounds of by-catch for every pound of shrimp, are one of the major contributors to the problem of by-catch. Bycatch can injure animals, contribute to population losses, and obstruct population recovery in species including dolphins, sea turtles, protected fish, and whales. Other fisheries-related implications on marine animals include the elimination of their preferred prey and, in certain cases, habitat destruction. According to the best available statistics, 17-22% U.S. catch is wasted every year, despite the fact that bycatch data is frequently old and erroneous. Bycatch in the United States might total 2 billion pounds per year, which is equal to the yearly catch of several other fishing nations around the world.
India has a catchable annual fisheries potential yield of 4.41 million tonnes (CMFRI 2013). Marine fish production in India which was only 0.5 million tonnes in 1950, increased to 3.59 million tonnes in 2014. The first estimation of the quantity of bycatch associated with shrimp trawling by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Cochin in 1979 showed that 79.18% (3 15 902 tonnes) of the total landings was represented as bycatch; the percentage of bycatch was maximum in Gujarat (92.58), followed by Tamil Nadu (91.04) and Pondicherry (86.52). In India, the bycatch landed at fishing harbors are utilized mainly for the production of manure and animal feed (Biju Kumar & Deepthi, 2006). Kelleher (2004) estimated total bycatch discards in Indian fisheries at 58 000 tonnes, which formed about 2% of the total landings. In Indian scenario, it is estimated that about 56.3% of the total catch of shrimp trawlers is bycatch.
The effect of pollution in the sea on Marine Life
Plastic in the ocean
Plastic poisoning is wreaking havoc on our ocean and the many creatures who call it home. It was sad to see these animals washing up with their guts filled with plastic, not just because of their tremendous intellect, but because they help keep the entire ocean alive.
When dolphins and whales rise to breathe, they nourish phytoplankton, small marine plants that absorb four times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the Amazon rainforest each year and provide up to 85% of the oxygen humans breathe. Preserving these species means protecting the entire earth in a world worried about carbon and climate change.
If dolphins and whales die, the ocean dies. And if the ocean dies, so do we. Plastic is infiltrating every part of the world's waters, with massive floating waste patches like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch collecting in the middle of the ocean. In reality, every minute, the equivalent of a trash truckload of plastic is dumped into the sea, adding to the over 150 million tonnes of plastic that already float there.
According to the United Nations, marine debris affects at least 800 species globally, with plastic accounting for up to 80% of the waste. Every minute, up to 13 million metric tonnes of plastic is projected to wind up in the ocean, the equivalent of a trash or garbage truck load. When fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals become entangled in or ingest plastic waste, they can suffer from suffocation, starvation, and drowning. While it is predicted that plastics take hundreds of years to totally dissolve, some of them break down considerably faster into microscopic particles, which wind up in the seafood we consume. Scientists predict that by 2050, the weight of ocean plastics will exceed the total weight of all fish in the seas unless immediate action is made to solve this critical issue.
In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, fishing nets account for 46% of the plastic. The large volume of ropes and lines discarded by fishing vessels is a big issue. Even some of the world's most isolated locations are swamped in fishing gear today. The most common rubbish found in the guts of marine species is fishing gear. Every day, longline fishing produces enough fishing lines to wrap around the globe 500 times.
The effect of Major fish Industries on Marine Life
The whaling industry
Whaling is the practise of killing whales for useful items such as flesh and fat, which may be processed into a sort of oil that became more essential during the Industrial Revolution. The blubber of whales is used to make whale oil. Whale oil was primarily used for lighting and machine lubrication. There were cheaper alternatives to whale oil, but they were worse in terms of performance and burn purity. As a result, whale oil dominated the globe for both applications, allowing the United States and Europe to continue their industrialisation. Japan has stated that commercial whale hunting would restart and that it will leave the International Whaling Commission. The IWC is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling. The IWC currently has 88 member governments from countries all over the world. Despite a worldwide prohibition in place since 1986, Tokyo claims it intends to kill. Every year, more than 700 dolphins and small whales are herded into a cove in Taiji to be slaughtered. The marine park entertainment business continues to support, underwrite, and subsidise the Taiji dolphin drives. A live dolphin is quite costly. As a result, capturing juvenile dolphins and whales and selling them to marine parks is the big ticket. The dolphins are also seen by fishermen as a competitor, therefore if they kill the huge fish that eats the tiny fish, there will be more tiny fish accessible for them.
The Tuna Industry
This is a $42-billion-a-year industry. Bluefin tuna is the most expensive fish on the planet. Just one of these fish sold in Tokyo’s fish market for over three million dollars. Today, less than 3% of the species remain.
The shark fin Industry
The shark-finning industry is a multibillion-dollar business that is sometimes extensively criminalised and operated in a Mafia-like fashion. They don't want individuals with cameras snooping about because they don't want their nefarious activities exposed. As a result, sharks are slaughtered for their fins all over the world. These fins are being sent to Asia (Hong Kong is known as Shark Fin City), mostly China, to be used in shark fin soup, which is considered a status symbol. It has little nutritional value, doesn't taste particularly well, and may cost upwards of $100 a bowl.
The presence of sharks in the water should not be feared. What is concerning is the lack of sharks. Sharks keep the waters in good shape. They help to maintain the health of the fish populations. They ensure the survival of ecosystems. They ensure the survival of coral reefs. The ocean will turn into a swamp if we don't have these sharks, if these sharks are finned to extinction. And who do you think will be the next to perish? Every year 12 people are killed by sharks. Humans, on the other hand, kill 11,000 to 30,000 sharks each hour.
The most important thing we can do every day to safeguard the ocean and the marine species is to simply not consume them. They have a decent chance of surviving the difficult times ahead if we conserve more and fish less, and re-establish that type of balance and healthy ecology. There is a good reason to be optimistic, since marine ecosystems recover swiftly if given the chance. The reefs would be recovering, the great shoals of fish would be returning, and the whales would be returning to shores. This is something we can do. We've got this.
The chances for marine recovery, or rewilding, are quite promising, but they can only be realised if commercial fishing is prohibited in huge sections of the ocean. And, because governments are unwilling to interfere and the sector is mostly unregulated, the only ethical option is to quit eating fish. It's not too late to seize the best chance we'll ever have of finding a place to call home in this universe. Respect what we have, safeguard what is left, and don't allow any of the pieces to go. The majority of positive and negative factors that influence human civilization began with someone. And though no one can accomplish everything, everyone can contribute in some way or the other and sometimes, small ideas can make a big difference. That’s what we can do. That’s what you can do. Right now.
By Avni Goel and Kriti Goel
Avni is a first year economics honours student from Hindu college (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kriti is a first year Bsc.(physics) student from Christ University. (email@example.com)