Overfishing means that more fish are caught than add to a population from offspring. Today, already 60-90% of marine fish stocks are considered overfished. And while fish populations and ecosystems are also threatened by additional pressures such as acidification, plastic, noise and chemical pollution, intensive fishing continues: every year, around 90 million tonnes of fish, crustaceans and molluscs are caught. And these are only the officially reported figures.
Including those animals that end up as by-catch adds another 36.4 million tonnes. The animals suffocate, which can take up to 30 minutes, are squashed in nets or dragged on hooks for hours. The fish may still be alive when they are gutted, filleted and frozen on board – without stunning. To the fish, all of this is pure torture. They have a nervous system and feel pain. Every year, billions of fish are caught and killed.
Fish farms boost overfishing
As the oceans are largely depleted of fish, aquaculture is being intensified in an attempt to satisfy the growing hunger for fish with farmed fish. But classical fish farms are a form of intensive animal husbandry. Too many animals live in too small a space, are susceptible to illness and are therefore often treated prophylactically with antibiotics. Most farmed fish are predatory fish that are fed fish meal or fish oil. Paradoxically, conventional aquaculture therefore often consumes more fish as feed than it produces.