Pros & Cons Of Sustainable Fishing

We previously compiled a list of potential sustainable fishing practices.

In the guide below, we outline what some of the potential pros and cons of sustainable fishing might be.

 

Summary – Pros & Cons Of Sustainable Fishing

Pros

There’s a number of practices available, and they can be implemented partially as required in each fishery or fishing operation

Can help address environmental issues, and maintain ecosystems and biodiversity

Can help manage resources better and more efficiently

Can help address human food (and protein) supply security issues 

There’s already examples around the world where sustainable fishing practices have shown to be effective in different ways

 

Cons

There can be economic tradeoffs

There can be challenges in terms of fishing at scale to meet food demand of the total population

Some practices are more sustainable in some ways, but still have their sustainability concerns in other ways

Some problems such as overfishing and species depletion can be impossible to reverse once a certain threshold or point is reached

Can be difficult to enforce or police regulations and laws

Data quality, lack of reporting, and other factors can make managing fisheries difficult

Cultural differences, preferences and beliefs may make it hard to reduce or eliminate some unsustainable practices

Fishermen and scientists can sometimes be looking at different things when assessing whether fish populations are adequate or not in an area – this can lead to disagreement

 

Pros Of Sustainable Fishing

There’s a number of practices available, and they can be implemented partially as required in each fishery or fishing operation

There’s many different practices that can be implemented to make fishing more sustainable.

These practices don’t have to be implemented heavily all at once.

They can be introduced progressively and selectively if required.

 

Can help address environmental issues, and maintain ecosystems and biodiversity

Sustainable fishing practices can help address environmental issues such as waste pollution.

Two examples of this are the proper waste management of fishing gear at sea, and the proper management of waste from fish farming.

Sustainable fishing practices can also help maintain ecosystems and biodiversity.

Two examples of this are by reducing fishing practices that damage habitats, and by protecting fish population numbers so they don’t deplete past a certain point.

 

Can help manage resources better and more efficiently

There’s several ways resources can be managed better or more efficiently.

A few examples are:

– Fish themselves as a resource in the form of food, can be managed via better fishery management

– Fuels and materials used for commercial fishing can be better managed

– Feed and other resources (energy, water, etc) used in fish farming can be improved or used more efficiently

 

Can help address human food (and protein) supply security issues 

Sustainable fishing practices can help conserve species populations, and reduce the frequency of overfishing, exploitation of fish, and essentially the depletion of fishery populations.

With fish being a main food and protein source for humans, sustainable fishing can help with food security.

On land and in water fish farming can further help with food production and security for humans.

 

There’s already examples around the world where sustainable fishing practices have shown to be effective in different ways

[Areas in the Philippines, South Pacific, and Native Hawaii have shown that different sustainable fishing practices can have a positive effect on different factors to do with fishing sustainability] (nationalgeographic.org)

 

Cons Of Sustainable Fishing

There can be economic tradeoffs

There can be a number of economic tradeoffs swapping from some fishing practices to others.

Some of those may potentially include in some cases:

– Higher labor costs due to more time intensive fishing practices

– Lower profits and revenues due to not being able to catch at larger scales with certain methods, and also when quotas and protections of certain areas or species are in place

– Higher sustainable seafood and farmed fish food costs for consumers when costs are passed onto them

 

It’s also worth mentioning, targeting abundant fish species like the deep-sea bristlemouths isn’t always profitable (nationalgeographic.org)

 

There can be challenges in terms of fishing at scale to meet food demand of the total population

Some sustainable fishing practices simply aren’t designed to catch fish at scale, or catch fish easily and quickly.

This results in less production for a growing population with growing food demands.

 

Some practices are more sustainable in some ways, but still have their sustainability concerns in other ways

Fish farming is an example of this

Even land based fish farming uses a % of wild caught fish for fish meal and oils, and still has a resource usage footprint to consider.

 

Some problems such as overfishing and species depletion can be impossible to reverse once a certain threshold or point is reached

As one example:

– … once trout have been overfished, carp might take over in a way that makes it impossible for the trout to re-establish a breeding population (wikipedia.org)

Having said that, some commentators on ocean sustainability challenge this.

 

Can be difficult to enforce or police regulations and laws

Due to limited resources, or because of how large the ocean is, it can be hard to enforce policies and laws, and police different areas of the ocean to stop activities like illegal fishing.

Border disputes, the migration of fish populations, and other factors can also play a part in this.

 

Data quality, lack of reporting, and other factors can make managing fisheries difficult

According to wikipedia.org, the management of fisheries by scientists can be challenging due to problems with data quality, a lack of reporting on different issues like illegal fishing, and inconsistencies with factors such as baselines.

 

Cultural differences, preferences and beliefs may make it hard to reduce or eliminate some unsustainable practices

As one example of this, some cultures and societies may place importance on a specific body part of a specific water species because of their belief in it’s properties for medical, spiritual or other reasons.

In these instances, it can be difficult to reduce or eliminate the fishing of these species for the sake of sustainability.

 

Fishermen and scientists can sometimes be looking at different things when assessing whether fish populations are adequate or not in an area – this can lead to disagreement

Fishermen may fish areas where they know fish are, whereas scientists may analyse an entire fishery area.

If fishermen and scientists are looking at two different sets of data when it comes to population numbers, they may disagree on how to manage certain fisheries. 

 

Sources

1. https://bettermeetsreality.com/16-biggest-problems-for-our-oceans-coasts-marine-life/

2. https://bettermeetsreality.com/how-to-save-the-ocean-solutions-to-ocean-pollution-degradation-threats-to-marine-life/

3. https://cimioutdoored.org/fishing-methods-for-a-sustainable-future/

4. https://www.oceanwatch.org.au/latest-news/sustainable-fishing/5-ways-industry-is-keeping-seafood-sustainable-in-australia-for-sustainableseafoodday/

5. https://greentumble.com/sustainable-fishing-practices/

6. https://www.msc.org/what-we-are-doing/our-approach/what-is-sustainable-fishing

7. https://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/top-5-sustainable-fishing-practices.htm

8. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/sustainable-fishing/

9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_fishery

10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overfishing

11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsustainable_fishing_methods

12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_seafood

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