00:07 Fish are in trouble.
00:09 The cod population off Canada’s East Coast collapsed in the 1990s, intense recreational and commercial fishing
00:16 has decimated goliath grouper populations in South Florida, and most populations of tuna have plummeted by over 50%,
00:24 with the Southern Atlantic bluefin on the verge of extinction.
00:28 Those are just a couple of many examples.
00:30 Overfishing is happening all over the world.
00:33 How did this happen?
00:34 When some people think of fishing, they imagine relaxing in a boat and patiently reeling in the day’s catch.
00:40 But modern industrial fishing, the kind that stocks our grocery shelves, looks more like warfare.
00:46 In fact, the technologies they employ were developed for war.
00:50 Radar, sonar, helicopters, and spotter planes are all used to guide factory ships towards dwindling schools of fish.
00:58 Long lines with hundreds of hooks or huge nets round up massive amounts of fish, along with other species, like seabirds, turtles, and dolphins.
01:07 And fish are hauled up onto giant boats, complete with onboard flash freezing and processing facilities.
01:13 All of these technologies have enabled us to catch fish at greater depths and farther out at sea than ever before.
01:19 And as the distance and depth of fishing have expanded, so has the variety of species we target.
01:25 For example, the Patagonian toothfish neither sounds nor looks very appetizing.
01:30 And fishermen ignored it until the late 1970s.
01:33 Then it was rebranded and marketed to chefs in the U.S. as Chilean sea bass, despite the animal actually being a type of cod.
01:40 Soon it was popping up in markets all over the world and is now a delicacy.
01:45 Unfortunately, these deep water fish don’t reproduce until they’re at least ten years old,
01:50 making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing when the young are caught before they’ve had the chance to spawn.
01:56 Consumer taste and prices can also have harmful effects.
01:59 For example, shark fin soup is considered such a delicacy in China and Vietnam that the fin has become the most profitable part of the shark.
02:07 This leads many fishermen to fill their boats with fins leaving millions of dead sharks behind.
02:13 The problems aren’t unique to toothfish and sharks.
02:16 Almost 31% of the world’s fish populations are overfished, and another 58% are fished at the maximum sustainable level.
02:24 Wild fish simply can’t reproduce as fast as 7 billion people can eat them.
02:29 Fishing also has impacts on broader ecosystems.
02:32 Wild shrimp are typically caught by dragging nets the size of a football field along the ocean bottom, disrupting or destroying seafloor habitats.
02:40 The catch is often as little as 5% shrimp.
02:43 The rest is by-catch, unwanted animals that are thrown back dead.
02:47 And coastal shrimp farming isn’t much better.
02:50 Mangroves are bulldozed to make room for shrimp farms,
02:53 robbing coastal communities of storm protection and natural water filtration and depriving fish of key nursery habitats.
03:00 So what does it look like to give fish a break and let them recover?
03:04 Protection can take many forms.
03:05 In national waters, governments can set limits about how, when, where, and how much fishing occurs, with restrictions on certain boats and equipment.
03:15 Harmful practices, such as bottom trawling, can be banned altogether, and we can establish marine reserves closed to all fishing to help ecosystems restore themselves.
03:26 There’s also a role for consumer awareness and boycotts to reduce wasteful practices, like shark finning, and push fishing industries towards more sustainable practices.
03:35 Past interventions have successfully helped depleted fish populations recover.
03:39 There are many solutions.
03:41 The best approach for each fishery must be considered based on science,
03:45 respect for the local communities that rely on the ocean, and for fish as wild animals.
03:50 And then the rules must be enforced.
03:52 International collaboration is often needed, too, because fish don’t care about our borders.
03:58 We need to end overfishing.
04:00 Ecosystems, food security, jobs, economies, and coastal cultures all depend on it.