The costs associated with overfishing are not just economical; they are environmental and social as well.
The World Bank released a report in 2009 showing that commercial fisheries lose $50 billion a year, because of overfishing. The lack of fish is reducing commercial profits. Also, It is estimated that all countries could cumulatively offer 100,000 more fishing jobs today if it were not for overfishing (1.) Tourism in some coastal areas is being affected economically by overfishing as well (2.)
The lack of fish in some coastal regions has caused jellyfish population to move in. For example, Jellyfish have invaded tourist destinations in the Mediterranean from France to Greece and have remained since the beginning of the 21st century. In 2004, there were 45,000 people stung by jellyfish in the French Riviera. When beaches close, coastal businesses are affected by the lack of foot traffic (2.)
The greatest environmental costs associated with overfishing include the destruction of ocean habitats by trawls and dredges and the rapid depletion of fish populations. Often times fish are caught before they have a chance to fully grow and reproduce, which further reduces fish populations. Also, when fisheries target certain fish species it affects the predator/prey relationships that exist, causing some non-targeted fish populations to die from lack of food (3,4.)
The social costs of overfishing can be seen when communities that depend on local fishing collapse. The fishermen that lose their jobs may have to out-migrate in order to find employment. On a global scale, overfishing has lead to the undernourishment of 20 million people a year (5, 6.)
How can you help?
It is important to be informed. Becoming education on the issues of overfishing is the first step toward ending it (7.) You can begin reading through some of the articles on this Ecomerge blog.
When shopping for seafood be careful to purchase those with the lowest impact. Review the guide for good fish choices in your area (7.)
Share your knowledge about overfishing with others. This can be done by word of mouth, through social media sites, on personal blogs/websites, etc. You can also submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or write elected officials to voice your concerns about overfishing (7.)
1.) NEF, Economics as If People and the Planet Mattered. Jobs Lost at Sea, Overfishing and the Jobs That Never Were. NEF. PDF.
2.) "The Battle for Ocean Supremacy: The Jellyfish Conquests." OCEAN2012 Publications. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://ocean2012.eu/publications/35-the-battle-for-ocean-supremacy-the>.
3.) "Exploitive Fishing." Welcome. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.coral.org/node/130>.
4.) "FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Impacts of Fishery Activities." FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Impacts of Fishery Activities. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.fao.org/fishery/topic/12273/en>.
5.) "TRADE-WEST AFRICA Overfishing Linked to Food Crisis, Migration." TRADE-WEST AFRICA Overfishing Linked to Food Crisis, Migration. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=43514>.
6.) Dowd, Allan. "World Pays High Price for Overfishing, Studies Say." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/14/us-overfishing-idUSTRE68D4J020100914>.
7.) "What Can I Do to Help." Overfishing. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://overfishing.org/pages/what_can_I_do_to_help.php>.