Overfishing is a global issue

94% of the world’s fisheries are overfished
or fished to the maximum sustainable level
.

Wild-capture of seafood had almost quadrupled from the 1950s to late 1980s. After peaking at 90 million tons per year, the number has been decreasing ever since.

Only 6% of our fishery are underfished, and can still be further exploited.

Source: The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture

IUU fishing

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for around 20% of the world’s fishing. This means over $23 billion worth of seafood were caught either without a license, caught in unregulated areas or are unreported. What this means is the seafood you are eating might not be legal.

Illegal fishing also damages the ocean floor and marine ecosystem grievously with destructive fishing methods, including bottom trawls, miles-long walls of driftnets.

IUU seafood is prevalent in seafood markets throughout the world. In Hong Kong, 22% of locally registered vessels still operate trawl nets in the South China Sea in 2019.

Over half of South African dried abalones imported into Hong Kong are likely illegally sourced and trafficked. Over half of South African dried abalones imported into Hong Kong are likely illegally sourced and trafficked. Illegal trade of the CITES listed, Endangered Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is frequently reported.

Source: How to End Illegal Fishing, Trawled fish consumption continues despite ban, An assessment of South African dried abalone consumption and trade in Hong Kong

Taking everything

Without regulation or monitoring, certain fishing and aquaculture practices can negatively impact marine animals not usually targeted as seafood.

Bycatch (Non-target species)

Annually, about 300,000 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) die entangled in fishing nets as bycatch.
Similarly, 89% of hammerhead sharks and 80% of thresher and white sharks in the NE Atlantic Ocean were caught as bycatch over the last 2 decades.

Feed-grade fish (Biomass fishing)

Feed-grade fish are fish used to feed other fishes (see “Feeding fish with fish”).
Believed by most to be “trash”, an average of 20 million tonnes of feed-grade fish are taken from the ocean to make fishmeal or fish oil for aquaculture and livestock every year.
Yet, about ¾ of these fish-grade fish are juveniles of commercially important species, such as anchovies and halibuts.

What you can do?

All of the above problems stem from the mismanagement of fisheries and aquaculture.

As consumers, you can help by:

1

EATING LESS SEAFOOD

Reduce the amount, frequency, and variety of seafood consumption

2

CHOOSING SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD

Choose sustainably caught or farmed seafood

Sustainable seafood is seafood that
has been captured or farmed in a way that:

  • Minimizes harm to the marine environment
  • The population of the target species is not being overfished
  • Comes from well-managed fisheries or farms so that our oceans remain healthy