SEATTLE, Washington — Around the world, millions of people living in coastal villages and communities rely on fishing for their livelihood. In fact, fish is the most common source for at least one billion people globally. Fishing is not only important for food security but also for the economy. The global fishing industry employs around 200 million people. That’s why is organizations are working to spread awareness of the use of sustainable fishing to fight poverty.
Fishing is especially crucial for those in developing countries because it provides much of their employment, nutrition and food security. However, as overfishing continues to persist everywhere, both the marine ecosystems and the lives depending on the fishing practices are going to be negatively affected. According to the U.N., in the past 20 years, the percentage of fish stocks facing collapse has nearly doubled. Practicing sustainable fishing in impoverished villages and coastal communities could significantly improve lives.
Why Sustainable Fishing?
According to the Marine Stewardship Council, sustainable fishing means “leaving enough fish in the ocean, respecting habitats and ensuring people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods.” The good news is that sustainable fishing will create a future where people can still depend on fish. Currently, fish are being taken from the ocean in such excessive quantities that the remaining fish cannot replace them fast enough through reproduction. This is affecting all of the coastal areas that depend on these fish.
This is more prominent in developing countries where food security is not as easy to come by. Because the majority of coastal populations get their protein from fish, the more the source depletes, the more malnourishment follows. The depletion of fish stocks directly results in protein intake depletion. Malnutrition due to overfishing is especially common in young children. Considering fish protein is often makes up more than 50 percent of some coastal villages’ intake, this is a huge problem.
Not only do individuals struggle to catch a meal but small-scale fisheries struggle even more, which leads to employment troubles. West Africa puts into scale how important these fisheries actually are. Throughout West Africa, small-scale fisheries provide employment for almost seven million people. Overfishing is destroying lives socially and economically.
An Outside Perspective
Practicing sustainable fishing to fight poverty is a difficult process, but it will prove much more beneficial in the long run for everyone involved. Coastal communities rely heavily on fishing for their income, but they are often unaware of the dangers of overfishing. According to Marine Biologist and conservationist Julia Huls, “They are completely unaware that they are taking an unsustainable amount and their fishery will eventually collapse.” Once the fish stock is depleted, the fisheries will close.
Huls believes that it is absolutely crucial for conservationists to be targeting these specific communities in order to implement sustainable practices. Otherwise, both the species and the livelihoods of the people are at risk. “It is vital for the people and the marine ecosystem that they make the switch [to sustainable fishing]or collapse will happen and the marine life and people will suffer,” says Huls. Through sustainable fishing, both can be saved.
The future of fishing completely depends on the implementation of sustainable practices. Bringing awareness to people about using sustainable fishing to fight poverty around the world can improve numerous lives by creating stable fisheries. Establishing healthy small-scale fisheries will provide employment and economic balance with the possibility of reducing overall poverty levels. Most importantly, sustainable fishing will allow the rapidly growing world population to be fed, decreasing the amounts of malnutrition in many communities.
– Savannah Huls