Stopping overfishing

The appetite for fish is exceeding our ocean’s ecological limits. Marine ecologists and scientists across the world think that overfishing is the biggest threat to marine ecosystems today.

The modern fishing industry is dominated by fishing vessels that out-match nature's ability to replenish fish. Giant ships using state-of-the-art fish-finding sonar can pinpoint schools of fish quickly and accurately. These ships are like giant floating factories with fish processing and packing plants, huge freezing systems and powerful engines to drag enormous fishing gear through the ocean. Simply put: the fish don't stand a chance.

Populations of top predators are disappearing at a frightening rate. Ninety percent of the large fish such as tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut, skate, and flounder have been fished out since large scale industrial fishing began in the 1950s. Their depletion can cause a shift in entire oceans ecosystem where commercially valuable fish are replaced by smaller, plankton-feeding fish. These changes endanger the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems and hence the livelihoods of those dependent on them.

Campaign story:

India’s seas are the spawning and breeding grounds of large varieties of fish species. At least 3.5 million people in approximately 4000 fishing villages situated along the Indian coastline earn a living from marine fisheries. However, fisheries resources in several parts of the country are under severe stress.

By offering a variety of subsidies and incentives, governments at the centre and state level have allowed too many mechanised boats to operate, resulting in too many boats chasing too few fish. With overall fish catches showing a tendency to plateau and the share of the artisanal fishing sector falling, measures to restrict fleet capacity and sustain fish stocks are essential.

This can be done by empowering the fisher community to co-manage marine resources. The current regulations and enforcements need to be strengthened by getting more fishermen involved. The enforcement agencies also need the space and flexibility to accommodate and incorporate the use of science for fisheries management. Any strategy dealing with the management of marine resources, including fisheries, needs to use an ‘ecosystem approach’, which considers the entire ecosystem and all the species inhabiting them.

On the positive side, exploitation of distant waters in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is believed to be much lower, though there are efforts from government and industry to increase exploitation. Protection and conservation measures in the EEZ need to be implemented before exploitation levels increase. 

The latest updates


Good cop and bad cop

Blog entry by Amrit Bakshi | March 27, 2013

The African queen: Laden with Greenpeace activists. After a highly successful boat training near the waters of Sri Lanka. It was time for training Part II to commence. Campaign training.  So on the fateful day, campaigners from...

Sea, dolphins and the Esperanza

Blog entry by Amrit Bakshi | March 22, 2013

Water has always been an element I have been in awe of. In the first 18 years of my life, I saw the sea only once. And fate, having that profound sense of irony that it has. Eventually placed me on a little boat on the Rainbow...

A case for protecting India's fisheries

Image gallery | June 8, 2012

A case for protecting India's fisheries

Image gallery | June 8, 2012

A case for protecting India's fisheries

Image gallery | June 8, 2012

Safeguard or Squander?

Publication | June 8, 2012 at 13:00

India's marine fisheries are in a state of crisis, despite official statements that there is still scope or fish landings to increase. 90% of India's fish resources are at or above maximum sustainable levels of exploitation.

F***ing in India: how not to manage a fisheries system

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | March 9, 2012

The Indian government's Letter of Permit (LoP) scheme stands out as the textbook example of how not to manage a fisheries system. In fact, constant abuse of the scheme, too many loopholes and tardy monitoring and implementation has...

What I talk about when I talk about F***ing

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | February 15, 2012

I am on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, en route to Port Blair right now. It has been fantastic to sail from Singapore to India (took us 5 days) and calming to have just the never ending ocean stretched out before you every time you...

Sailing on the Espy - Day One

Blog entry by Lochan Baratakke | February 10, 2012

After a rather sleepless overnight flight from Chennai to Singapore - thanks, in part, to two relentless crying babies on-board - it didn't take long before we were driven off to the shipyard where the Esperanza was docked. We were...

Fishermen at Chilika say, “Protect Ecology and Right to Fish.”

Blog entry by Deven Digwal | August 10, 2011

Chilika is an integral part of the culture of coastal Orissa. Covering a vast area of more than 1000 sq km Chilika is the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia. Some of the very rare species of flora, fauna, mammals and birds are...

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