Energy Initiative Blogs

Overfishing and sustainable aquaculture

by Ruxandra Griza | Oct 24, 2016

Last week, Outside Magazine published an obituary for the Great Barrier Reef, which apparently was declared dead after 25 million years. Though many, like the Huffington Post, argue that such claims are exaggerated and “sensational,” and that the GBR is not completely wiped out, the article does point to perils facing reefs all over the oceans. Climate change leads to ocean acidification and warmer waters, condemning reefs to mass episodes of coral bleaching. But another danger to reefs, which the two articles did not mention, is industrial fishing.

A bleached  coral in Papua New Guinea - from the Huffington Post

The volume of industrial fishing has increased substantially, from 19 million tons in 1950 to 87 million tons in 2005[1].

 In order to reel in such a large amount of fish, large-scale fisheries employ a technique called bottom trawling. Enormous heavy nets are cast into the water and hauled across the ocean floor, where they collect the target fish as well as bycatch, collateral damage that includes corals and endangered marine species. Bycatch can make up as much as 90% of the catch volume[2].