November 21 is World Fisheries day, in addition to celebrations surrounding the value of fisheries this is also an opportunity to take stock of the dramatic implications of overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change.
According to a recent United Nations study more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.
Fisheries are of crucial benefit to human life as well as the heath of our interrelated ecosystems. Fisheries provide both food and jobs. Most human population centers are located in close proximity to oceans, rivers, and lakes. They are also an important transportation system. The combination of human habitation and transportation has poisoned our waters. This includes everything from industrial pollution to human waste.
Unsustainable fishing methods like factory vessels and bottom trawling are destroying entire aquatic ecosystems as well as dramatically depleting all forms of aquatic life.
On this day we are called to take stock of our actions and work to protect our fisheries through more responsible stewardship. We must change the way we manage global fisheries and work together to create international laws and develop enforcement mechanisms.
An example of such efforts is what is known as the “Law of the Sea.” This addresses issues of jurisdiction over national and international waters, (including the seabed), and it supports sustainable fisheries.