Overfishing & Unsustainable Fishing
Harmful Fishing Practices
Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures,...
God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.
Genesis1: 20, 22
Populations of beloved fish species are plummeting -- particularly those of the large species that are so loved internationally for eating, such as blue- and yellow-finned tuna, cod, shark, and others. Large commercial fishing fleets have the technology to track and harvest enormous quantities at one time. They use drag nets and dredging, which clear-cut the ocean floor of coral and sea grasses. The habitat is destroyed, and they often use enslaved laborers.
The nets take in enormous amounts of fish and other species, such as turtles, that the fleets didn't target, resulting in vast amounts of waste. This wasted sea life is called "by-catch."
Concern is intense in the US as the Department of Commerce raises fishing limits beyond what is sustainable. USA Today reported: "Commerce extended red snapper season knowing it would lead to overfishing, memos reveal."
Marine ecologist Carl Safina explains in this short video why it harms the full ecosystem to hunt and overfish shark. They keep the middle fish populations in balance so young fish can grow.
Keep the Magnuson-Stevens Bill strong to prevent overfishing!
Use the Seafood Watch app and recommendations to avoid buying fish caught unsustainably.
This portion of the movie "Blue" describes the issue of overfishing from many angles. Overfishing by commercial fleets leaves the poor coastal fishermen struggling to make a living and feed their families.
This short video tells how overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices are harming villagers in the Bay of Pandan in the Philippines and what villagers are doing to help protect the fish populations and their way of life.
Faith communities can work with marine conservation groups, such as the Ocean Conservancy, to support sustainable catch limits and fishing practices. They make a huge difference. Oceana has a "Save the Oceans, Feed the World" campaign to help stop overfishing. History has shown that marine populations can recover if the pressure is taken off of them and habitats are preserved. Scientists have found that creating and preserving marine sanctuaries are key to sustaining marine populations. Support these undersea Noah's arks!
Faith Turns Hearts to Caring & Action
When Heaven Meets Earth reveals how shrinking fish harvests in the Chesapeake Bay led Christian fishermen to work with conservation scientists once Tangiers Island residents studied Scripture and accepted God’s mandate to care for all creation. This discussion guide can work for faith congregations.
The "Sacred Island" episode of Carl Safina's "Saving the Ocean" describes how the Islamic principle of stewardship and avoiding wastefulness changed hearts and minds to work to protect God's gifts of fish in the ocean.
In Fiji, Christian churches are helping to teach stewardship of the marine populations: "Reeling in religious messages: how faith impacts fisheries in Fiji."