4 Ways The Fishing Industry is Destroying the Planet

You may have learned about the devastating effects that the animal agriculture industry has on land use and deforestation from the news stories about the Amazon Rainforest fires. But meat and dairy aren’t the only foods that are harmful to the environment. Eating fish also has awful consequences for the earth and is a huge contributor to pollution of our oceans and waterways. 

Fish make it to the supermarket in one of two ways: commercial fishing or aqua farming. Both have negative environmental impacts. Here’s why you should never eat fish if you care about the future of the planet: 

TOXIC WATER CONDITIONS: Most of the fish eaten today are raised on aquafarms either inland or on fenced-off cages in the ocean. On these farms, fish spend their whole lives (up to two years) confined in tightly packed spaces. The water can become toxic, and it—along with antibiotics, pesticides, parasites, and feces—is spread to surrounding areas, contaminating our oceans. Wild fish populations can get sick and die when parasites and chemicals are spread to them from these farms through the water. According to a study, a 2-acre fish farm can produce as much waste as a town of 10,000 people.

AQUAFARMING LEADS TO MORE FISHING: Not only does aquafarming create massive amounts of waste, it also contributes to MORE industrial fishing. This is because many of the fish raised on these farms are predators, meaning they need to eat smaller fish to live. Billions of wild fish need to be caught in order to feed these farmed species. For example, it takes five pounds of ocean fish to produce just one pound of farmed salmon

BOTTOM TRAWLING: Like the aqua farming industry, industrial fishing also has devastating environmental impacts. Commercial fishing operations sometimes use a technique called “bottom trawling,” which takes place when fishing boats drag giant nets across the ocean floor. These nets scrape up fish—and anything else in their path—wreaking havoc on delicate ecosystems and ocean habitats. The United Nations estimates that up to 95% of global ocean damage is a direct result of bottom trawling.

LONGLINE FISHING: Longline fishing is a technique in which boats drag long fishing lines through the water with several hooks on them. These fishing lines are up to 50 feet long, and they catch and kill unintended species—such as different fish, sea birds, turtles, and whales—en masse. These animals are then thrown overboard as “bycatch.” Longlines also can get lost in the ocean and are never retrieved, killing animals long after the boats have left. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US?: Fish populations are dwindling and the lack of biodiversity caused by overfishing, along with the contamination caused by aquafarms, could have disastrous results to human life. Experts predict fishless oceans by the year 2048. This is important because the ocean plays a big part in regulating temperature and it also creates fifty percent of our oxygen on Earth. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s tough to comprehend the massive amounts of sea animals who are killed yearly, but the truth is that it’s not too late to turn things around! If you care about the environment, the most effective thing you can do is to stop eating fish and other animal-derived foods, and choose plant-based options instead. It’s easier than ever before! 

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