Fisheries and Aquaculture
Examine recent trends in overfishing and aquaculture by reviewing a recent international report on the state of world fisheries.
Examine your role as a consumer in aiding the sustainability of fish in our oceans.
More than a billion people worldwide rely on fish as their main source of protein. Globally, fishing is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. However, unsustainable and destructive fishing practices are taking their toll on the oceans. Nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries are fished to capacity or beyond. If no changes are made, seafood supplies will be fully depleted in less than fifty years. Threats to the world’s fisheries, combined with the demand for their services, present a need for response on global, regional, and local levels.
Traditionally, fisheries management has focused largely on individual species or resources in isolation. However, the complex nature of marine ecosystems requires a management approach that considers the entire system as a whole. Learning about sustainable fishing practices and ecosystem-based management of marine resources will prepare you to be an active participant in the efforts to restore one of Earth’s most precious commoditiesâ€”fish.
In this exercise, we will review overfishing, aquaculture, and consumer choice as they relate to seafood. We will use the Part 1 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) â€œThe State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018â€ report to guide our learning in this exercise. Here is a link to the report:
You will be instructed to review specific figures from this report in the questions below.
Part 1: Overfishing
Overfishing has played a major role in the decline in the total number and diversity of fish in the sea over the last 50 years.
1.Do some research in this marine fisheries glossary or another credible online source. What do the terms â€œmaximum sustainable yieldâ€, â€œstockâ€, â€œfully exploitedâ€ and â€œoverexploitedâ€ mean in terms of marine fisheries?
2.Review Figure 14 (Global trends in the state of the world marine fish stocks 1974-2015) on page 40 of the report linked in the â€œBackgroundâ€ section of this exercise. What percentage of world marine fish stocks were considered â€œfully exploitedâ€ in 2009 (09 on the graph)?
3.Review Figure 14 (Global trends in the state of the world marine fish stocks 1974-2015) on page 40 of the report linked in the â€œBackgroundâ€ section of this exercise. What percentage of marine fish stocks were considered â€œoverexploitedâ€ in 2009?
4.Why is this data important to understanding world fish stocks and fishery production? Does this data surprise you? Why or why not? Use your own words for this answer.
Part 2: Aquaculture
Aquaculture is now the fastest-growing form of food production in the world. Nearly one-third of the seafood consumed in the world is farm raised. Aquaculture has the potential to relieve pressure on dwindling wild seafood populations and create sustainable food supplies. However, fish farms can also have negative impacts on the environment and wild fish populations. Aquaculture has economic, social, and environmental benefits.
Fish are produced for world consumption through either â€œcaptureâ€ (live caught in the wild) or â€œaquacultureâ€ (farm-raised fish).
Review Figure 1 (World capture fisheries and aquaculture production) on page 3 of the report. How has world Capture Production changed since 1990? Are we producing more, less, or the same amount of food fish products over time?
Review Figure 1 (World capture fisheries and aquaculture production) on page 3 of the report. How has world Aquaculture Production changed since 1990? Are we producing more, less, or the same amount of food fish products over time?
Review Table 10 (Aquaculture food fish production by region and selected major producers) on page 27 of the report. In 2010, what region was the top producer of food fish through aquaculture?
Review Table 10 (Aquaculture food fish production by region and selected major producers) on page 27 of the report. What percentage of the world’s aquaculture production came from North America in 2010?
Review Table 7 (Major species produced in world aquaculture) on pages 23-24 of the report. What species is MOST produced through aquaculture?
Review Table 7 (Major species produced in world aquaculture) on pages 23-24 of the report. Do some research on the fish species to determine species on the list that are diadromous. What diadromous species is MOST produced through aquaculture?(Note: diadromous fishes are those that migrate between the ocean and freshwater.)
Review Table 7 (Major species produced in world aquaculture) on pages 23-24 of the report. Looking at the Crustaceans graph, what crustacean species is MOST produced through aquaculture?
Review Table 7 (Major species produced in world aquaculture) on pages 23-24 of the report. Looking at the Mollusks graph, what mollusk species is MOST produced through aquaculture?
13.Why is this data important to understanding world fish stocks and fishery production? Does this data surprise you? Why or why not? Use your own words for this answer.
Extra Credit: Are you going to eat that?
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch team defines sustainable seafood as “seafood from sources, either fished or farmed, that can exist over the long-term without compromising species’ survival or the health of the surrounding ecosystem.” The Seafood Watch team, as well as several other research and conservation groups, have each developed methods for evaluating the sustainability of seafood, and provide consumers with recommendations for responsible seafood choices.
Review the following publications on sustainable seafood choices.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch National Consumer Guide
Environmental Defense Fund Seafood Selector: Best Choices, OK Choices, and Worst Choices (3 different links)
Blue Ocean Institutes Seafood Choices
Choose a fish or seafood you enjoy and research its sustainability on one of the sites above, a site that you find on your own, or on the FishWatch.gov site from NOAA. (If you do not eat seafood, choose a fish or seafood that you have heard other people talking about). Answer the following about the seafood you chose and compose a 3-4 paragraph summary of your answers.
Where is it harvested?
What is its population status? (overfished, abundant)
What is its fishing rate? (overfished, sustainable)
What are habitat impacts of the fishing of that species?
Is bycatch involved in the fishing of this species?
Is the species farmed? If so, are there any issues associated with its aquaculture?
Does this information change your mind about eating this particular seafood? Why or why not?
Can consumer choice really impact fishery and aquaculture? Why or why not?
You will post your answer as an essay question.
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