Overfishing Quotes (27 quotes)
[Overfishing—] it’s not just that we’re taking too many out, it’s how we’re doing it. We are wiping out their nurseries, … [because some huge boats] … bottom trawl … [with] nets that 50 years ago you’d have to lift when you came to coral reefs or rocks or nooks and crannies. Now they’re so sophisticated and so heavy, the equipment, and the boat’s so powerful they can just drag right over the coral reefs and the rocks and the nooks and crannies, and turn them into a gravel pit. … The trouble is those are the nurseries. That’s where the little fish hide and get bigger and get big enough for us to eat.
A huge net is being dragged across the sea floor, destroying everything in its path. Ahead of it bloom undersea forests and their hundreds and thousands of living creatures, both plant and animal; behind it is a desert. The net is pulled to the surface and most of the dead and dying life forms in it are thrown out. A few marketable species are retained. [Trawling] is like taking a front-end loader and scraping up your entire front garden and shredding it, keeping a few pebbles, and dumping the rest of it down the drain.
By the mid-1950s manatees were already scarce, and monk seals, once common as far north as Galveston, were gone. By the end of the 20th century, up to 90 percent of the sharks, tuna, swordfish, marlins, groupers, turtles, whales, and many other large creatures that prospered in the Gulf for millions of years had been depleted by overfishing.
Fish farming, even with conventional techniques, changes fish within a few generations from an animal like a wild buffalo or a wildebeest to the equivalent of a domestic cow.
I am concerned about the air we breathe and the water we drink. If overfishing continues, if pollution continues, many of these species will disappear off the face of the earth.
If … you reward people for behavior that’s actually bad … then you’re going to encourage that behavior. Today, our [conservation] incentives aren’t set up well-you can make a lot of money burning fossil fuels, digging up wetlands, pumping fossil water out of aquifers that will take 10,000 years to recharge, overfishing species in international waters that are close to collapse, and so on.
If you're overfishing at the top of the food chain, and acidifying the ocean at the bottom, you're creating a squeeze that could conceivably collapse the whole system.
In years gone by, we would just take, take, take from the oceans but today we realize this is not an option, that the oceans keep us alive, and that we need to tread more carefully. This is now both a governance issue and a choice issue.
It’s a case of many oceans around the world being degraded by negligence. The ocean is the lifeblood of our world. If we were to lose our fish that we appreciate so much by overfishing; or if we were to lose some of our favorite beaches to overbuilding and pollution, then how would we feel? It’s become a case of not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone. But by no means is it too late.
Krill, a vital food sources for sea life, is being snatched in vast quantities, with trawlers traveling halfway around the globe, generating ruinous carbon emissions in the form of global supply chains.
Meat reared on land matures relatively quickly, and it takes only a few pounds of plants to produce a pound of meat. Tuna take 10 to 14 years to mature, require thousands of pounds of food to develop, and we’re hunting them to the point of extinction.
Nine out of the 10 big fish that were around when I was growing up–the swordfish, the tuna, the marlin, the shark–90 percent of them are gone. If there was that many sharks when I was a kid, there are now this many.
Nobody is calling for an end to fishing on the high seas but some techniques, for example bottom trawling, must be banned.
Our oceans are facing innumerable threats-from overfishing and pollution to ocean acidification and invasive species-yet we haven’t had a blueprint for its use and development, incredible as that seems.
Overfishing—really easy to do with megaships equipped with sonar for fast fish finding—and the eventual result is no fish. When smaller boats were still in use, fisheries were sustainable, more or less. But in the past forty years, hyper-efficient hi-tech practices have put paid to a third of the productive ocean. … Now you've got bigger and bigger boats chasing smaller and fewer fish.
People still do not understand that a live fish is more valuable than a dead one, and that destructive fishing techniques are taking a wrecking ball to biodiversity.
People were getting ridiculous amounts [of bluefin tuna]. Somebody got on the radio and said, “Guys, maybe we should leave some for tomorrow.” Another guy came on and said, “Hey, they didn't leave any buffalo for me.” [Heard from fishermen crowding off Fire Island in 1998, which he cites as his source for the phrase “the last buffalo hunt” inspiring his writings on overfishing.]
The biggest danger we face is overfishing. We have too many boats out there. We literally could fish out our oceans, some scientists believe, in the next 40, 50, 60 years. We are trending in that direction. … Every year, for the first time in history, we catch fewer and fewer fish with more and more sophisticated boats going out trying to find them.
The most commonly used measure of biodiversity is species richness, which simply means the number of species in one place. But that measure alone does not tell us how healthy an ecosystem is. For example, think of a pristine coral reef and an overfished coral reef. The pristine reef might have dozens of gray reef sharks, whereas the overfished reef could have just one shark left.
The novelties in the fish line this week are two—brook trout and California salmon. … Long Island cultivated trout, alive, sell for $1.50 a pound; killed $1 a pound; trout from other portions of the state, 75 cents; wild trout from the Adirondacks, 50 cents; Canada trout 25 to 35 cents. … Certainly ten times as many trout are eaten in New-York as in former years. California salmon … brought 45 cents a pound. … This is rather a high price for California fish, but the catch is very light, caused by overfishing. (1879)
The ocean is like a checking account where everybody withdraws but nobody makes a deposit. This is what's happening because of overfishing. Many fisheries have collapsed, and 90 percent of the large fish, sharks and tuna and cod, are gone.
The stupidity of overfishing would have shocked Carson, herself a marine biologist. … Dredgers carve graveyards in seabeds, fertilisers fuel plankton blooms that result in oxygenless dead zones, and climate change threatens much sea life.
Those who nod sagely and quote the tragedy of the commons in relation to environmental problems from pollution of the atmosphere to poaching of national parks tend to forget that Garrett Hardin revised his conclusions many times…. He recognized, most importantly, that anarchy did not prevail on the common pastures of medieval England in the way he had described…. “A managed commons, though it may have other defects, is not automatically subject to the tragic fate of the unmanaged commons,” wrote Hardin…. At sea, where a common exists in most waters… None of Hardin’s requirements for a successfully managed common is fulfilled by high-seas fishery regimes.
We are fishing out the top of the food chain, and it’s pretty crucial because about 200 million people depend on fish and fishing for their livelihood, and about a billion people, mostly in poorer countries, depend on fish for their protein. So this is a big problem. Good news is, it’s fixable.
We need to move from the open access regime that results in overfishing in much of the ocean to rights-based fisheries, giving fishermen a vested interest in preventing overfishing and increasing compliance with catch limits.
What we’re dealing with is so vast and so global that it really does need to be energized and kicked into high gear. Basically what’s going on is we are overfishing–the biggest danger–there are lots of things going on with the oceans that are threatening them.
Why should the leaders of chemical businesses be held responsible for polluting the marine environment with a few grams of effluent, which is sublethal to marine species, while celebrity chefs are turning out endangered fish at several dozen tables a night without enduring a syllable of criticism?