Beneath the serene beauty of our ocean waters lurks a nightmare worse than any Jaws movie. You could compare it to alien abduction – massive numbers of fish are being snatched out of the water by high-tech factory fishing trawlers. This nightmare scenario is real, and the impacts on our ocean's ecosystems are extensive. Entire populations of fish are being targeted and destroyed, disrupting the food chain from top to bottom.
The United States has a poor record of ocean management. The current system allows fishery managers to completely overfish one species and then quickly move on to start overfishing another species. This is a horrible way to manage our precious ocean resources. Instead of managing one species at a time, the United States should take a look at the entire ocean ecosystem and manage fishery resources with that in mind.
Overfishing happens when the amount of fish caught exceeds the amount of fish needed to sustain fish stocks in a given region. Put simply, there are too many boats, especially large-scale, industrial vessels such as factory trawlers, with too much capacity for devastating fish stocks. To picture how many fish a factory trawler, can catch at one time, imagine a net as large as four football fields, with a circumference at the mouth of the net big enough to encompass three Statues of Liberty standing head-to-toe.
As a result of overfishing, fish populations decline and formerly productive fisheries may be forced to close. Long-term costs of overfishing can also include social dislocation due to loss of jobs, lost biological diversity and ecosystem collapse.
Greenpeace is engaged all along the U.S. coastline to identify and take action to prevent overfishing. We are working on solutions in-New England, along the Atlantic coastline, the North Pacific and the Bering Sea.