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Seafood is part of the most extensive list of single-source foods on planet Earth. It provides nutrition for over 3 billion people. Encouraging sustainable fishing is the best solution to save the marine biome. Read more.
Sustainable fishing respects marine ecosystems and adapts to the reproductive rate of fish to maintain balance and ensure the survival of all species.
Sustainable fishing uses only selective methods, rejecting the indiscriminate capture of fry and endangered or commercially valueless species. In order to achieve positive results, international flagless supervision is imperative. Efficient control and monitoring prevent illegal trade and fishing, which are the main culprits for the imbalance of the marine ecosystem.
When there is excessive demand, meaning fishing exceeding the limit or not respecting the spawning period of fish, certain species suffer the consequences. Swordfish and tuna stocks, for example, are nearing depletion, with an alarming rate of 90%. This condition will likely affect other species in a short time if extreme measures are not taken to prevent the worst.
In addition to ocean pollution, illegal fishing also contributes to increasing negative impacts on the marine biome. In other words, unregulated fishing puts at risk the communities that rely on this livelihood, as they face competition from those who do not pay legal taxes and fees.
Most targeted marine species
Of the aquatic animals captured, 40% come from illegal fishing or are accidentally killed in fishing nets:
Aquaculture or aquafarming
Aquaculture is a facility with environments that mimic the marine ecosystem.
Reproduction and growth of various aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, mollusks, algae, amphibians, and reptiles are monitored in aquaculture under strict rules and standards that meet with the sustainability requirements.
Challenges still present in aquaculture
If aquaculture does not adopt the methods required to maintain environmental sustainability, various setbacks can occur with predictable consequences, such as:
Leakage of harmful substances: which can reach nearby rivers or lakes and, as a rule, cause diseases.
Escape of farm-raised fish: can affect the local ecosystem if escaped fish or crustaceans such as salmon or shrimp invade and compete with other local species for territory, causing dangerous imbalances.
Emission of greenhouse gases: excessive release from fishing boats and other fish cargo transports.
Large-scale fishing versus small-scale fishing
If oversight is neglected, the seafood industry, which controls large-scale fishing, can become one of the contributors to the imbalance of the marine biome due to abuses.
On the other hand, a significant portion of coastal communities relies on small-scale fishing, which adopts more traditional capture methods, generating less impact on the environment. In other words, small-scale fishing uses practices that do not affect marine ecosystems. Instead of using trawl nets, fishermen use hooks and lines or set traps for fishing, leaving the threatened marine megafauna undisturbed at the bottom of the ocean.
Unlike larger fish, small seafood is not affected by the bioaccumulation of mercury, a neurotoxin commonly found in higher levels in larger fish.
As humans burn coal, the amount of mercury in the air increases. Eventually, this heavy metal reaches rivers, lakes, and oceans, where it is ingested by seafood. However, when larger fish like swordfish and tuna, for example, consume smaller fish, the amount of mercury doubles in their stomachs, creating a vicious cycle. Generally, the most contaminated are sardines and squid.
An alternative that can reduce the risk of excessive mercury exposure is to opt for marine animals such as scallops, mussels, and oysters, which feed only on plankton.
Technology allied with sustainable seafood fishing
With the support of technology, significant impacts affecting sustainability can be minimized or even eliminated.
Benefits of technology for sustainable fishing:
Electronic monitoring: better control of excesses and other irregularities via satellite.
Technological boats: vessels equipped with applications that provide strategic data for scientists and governmental organizations to determine the ideal conditions for fishing or spearfishing.
Artificial Intelligence: facilitates tracking of the most exploited or endangered marine species, establishing limits for both small-scale and large-scale fishing, as well as assisting in various situations in aquaculture.