We all know that overfishing is a big issue. It’s bad for the fish stocks*, which is bad for both the people and for the animals that depend of the fish for food or jobs. And, we all know that how fish are fished has a great affect on the fisheries (for example, bottom trawling gets big catches, but ruins habitats). Did you also know that how we regulate quotas can have a major impact on the fisheries?
This is a video of the British trawler the Prolific throwing perfectly good fish overboard. While it is possible that they are just dumping random fish that have no quota (not all fish are protected by quotas – not that this makes the dumping OK), it is also possible that they are “high-grading” (fishing until the have more then their quota and dumping the lesser fish so that the overall quality of what they take to port is worth more). This is possible because the EU quota restrictions are based on what the ship brings to port NOT on what they actually catch. Because of this, ships can fish continuously until they have nothing but higher quality fish and get rid of the lesser quality fish, even if those lesser quality fish were marketable.
And, in case you are wondering, all those fish they are dumping are dead. Even if the fish were thrown back in the water right away, it has been shown that many fish do not survive being caught (this could be because of the way in which they were caught or simply because of the stress or being caught and being out of the water). All those fish could have been used for food and were instead wasted for a few extra bucks.
It’s no wonder the fish are disappearing!
*This is a link to a very interesting video about Canadian fisheries, specifically the Atlantic cod fisheries. If Dr Ransom Myers seem familiar to you that’s because he was a prominent marine biologist / conservationist from Dalhousie University (sadly, he died 2 years ago).