The VLR on Declining Fishing Stock presents arguments from both sides of the depleting fish populations across the world. The video clip also explains how unsustainable fishing resulting from poor management of fisheries and inefficient fishing practices is eating away on the existing fisheries as well as putting to extinction entire marine habitats. On top of this, many unwanted fish and other marine animals get caught in the nets and get killed.
The primary reason for the present situation is commercial greed. Fishermen at all levels depend solely on the profit they earn out of their catch. The equipment required for fishing including the boats and nets are expensive to maintain. So, the last thing in their mind is the conservation of the marine environment. Also, the nature of marine life is such that it is difficult to estimate the existing population levels at various marine habitats. This means that the problem of over-fishing comes to light when it’s too late to reverse the trend (Alive, 2007).
At this juncture, a systematic, scientific and feasible plan is required to manage marine resources and ensure sustainability. Many experts within the fishing industry are working towards healthy, sustainable marine ecosystems, so that the future for its inhabitants is made secure. What is called for is a legitimate, proactive plan of action, with long term objectives in order that fisheries across the globe will be healthy and ecologically-balanced. Such a state of affairs will make sure that fishing does not have a negatively effect on marine ecosystems. (Neori, et. al., 2007)
To start with, fisheries management requires taking careful account of the more vulnerable marine ecosystems whose conditions may have a huge impact on fish stocks and their productivity. On identifying these, no-take zones or no-travel zones could be imposed on commercial fishing expeditions to prevent disruption of “fish spawning, breeding, and annual marine migrations”. Protection of these sensitive habitats at crucial junctures in time helps depleted fish populations to replenish and makes sure that the process of long-term sustainability and productivity of a fishery is underway (Alive, 2007).
Other measures are also required as part of the sustainability management plan. For example, in order for a marine ecosystem to maintain its health, instances fish catching expeditions will have to be curtailed to allow the target species (the ones identified to be on the verge of extinction but whose role in the marine ecosystem is crucial) “to continue to play its natural role in functioning ecosystems”. Further more, fishing equipment that minimizes or reduces the incidental take of non-target species (by catch) need to alter their usual method of fish-catching to circumvent this problem.
While the above key elements of a plan to achieve sustainable fishing sounds very practical and effective, it poses a few challenges as well. For example, an important aspect of sustainability management plans is their recognition of “economic, social, and cultural interest of all stakeholders in a fishery” and its implications on the management plan. By taking into account the viewpoints of the people involved in fishing operations, the chances of successful implementation of objectives toward sustainability are made realistic. (Neori, et. al., 2007)
The problems that fall under the purview of sustainability plans are not just confined to fish stocks in demand (target fish). Other negative consequences of over-fishing are the depletion of cohabitant species numbers (by catch) and marine habitat pollution. These damaging impacts of fishing have a serious impact on the oceans.
A successful implementation also involves projects aimed at the retail and market end of the seafood industry. In partnership with other NGOs, the government agencies and advocacy groups can combine in a strategic partnership that communicates effectively with the citizenry “to raise the profile of sustainable seafood products with consumers and markets, and provide guidance on their procurement” (Alive, 2007).