Fishing is one of the main sources of nutrients and proteins in the diet of many people. In the world, more than 3 billion people obtain at least 20% of their daily intake of animal protein from fish.
Fishing itself is not harmful to the ocean, except when fish are caught faster than populations can replenish, this is called overfishing.
A trend that continues to grow
Given the population increase, the pressure suffered by this valuable natural resource is increasing. In the last 30 years, world fish consumption has experienced an extraordinary increase of 122%. More than a third of the world's fish stocks are being fished above the limits of sustainability, a trend that continues to increase.
Overexploited fisheries are those that are harvested at a faster rate than they can be recovered. In just 40 years, the populations of marine species have been reduced by 39% due to overfishing. 34.02% of the fishing stocks are overexploited, 59.6% are exploited to their limit and 6.2% are overexploited.
Overfishing can impact entire ecosystems. When too many fish are removed from the sea, an ecological imbalance is created that can lead to the loss of other vulnerable marine species, such as sea turtles and corals. In the long run, overfishing means starvation in marine ecosystems and for humanity.
The percentage of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has decreased from 90% in 1974 to 65.8% in 2017. That is, it has tripled in the last 40 years.
The most overexploited marine fisheries in Mexico are those for red grouper (Epinephelus morio), sardine (Engraulidae, Clupeidae), lobster (Palinuridae, Scyllaridae), octopus (Octopus spp.) and tuna (Thunnus spp.). In our country, more than 160,000 men and women are engaged in and economically dependent on fishing activity.
In order to continue enjoying marine resources in a sustainable way, we must try to give them time for their populations to recover. One way to recover marine populations is by implementing and respecting closed seasons. The bans are periods in which it is prohibited to fish a certain species whose population is threatened. Another way to conserve marine species is by protecting their habitats from pollution.
You can also help with your consumption habits: avoid consuming the largest fish, by consuming from sustainable fisheries, we ensure responsible management and use of our marine resources. Look for seafood products with sustainable fishing certifications, if you go to a restaurant ask for sustainable fish and shellfish and use consumption guides such as Seafood Watch.
Remember, the future of the sea depends on us!
Arreguin-Sanchez, F y Arcos-Huitron, E. (2011). La pesca en México: estado de la explotación y uso de los ecosistemas. Hidrobiológica. Vol.21 (3): 431-462.
FAO, FIDA, OMS, PMA y UNICEF. 2020. El estado de la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición en el mundo 2020. Transformación de los sistemas alimentarios para que promuevan dietas asequibles y saludables. Roma, FAO.
Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y pesca. (2019). La pesca mexicana, una actividad inmensa como el mar. https://www.gob.mx/conapesca/articulos/la-pesca-mexicana-una-actividad-inmensa-como-el-mar-227722?idiom=es
Arreguin-Sánchez, F., L. Beléndez Moreno, I. Méndez Gómez-Humarán, R. Solana Sansores & C. Rangel Dávalos (Eds.). 2006. Sustentabilidad y Pesca Responsable en México: Evaluación y Manejo. Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganaderia, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación. Instituto Nacional de la Pesca. México. 544p.