Help Us End Destructive Fishing
Destructive fishing is among the most significant threats to productive oceans and healthy wildlife populations. Overfishing – catching more fish than the ocean can produce – has been an ongoing challenge for fisheries managers for decades.
About 25% of U.S. fish populations are overfished, and 90% of global fish populations are fully-fished or overfished, which has led to the collapse of many fisheries and ecologically-important fish species. Even when fisheries are well-managed, illegal ‘pirate’ fishing can threaten ecosystems and fishers alike. An astonishing 20% of wild-caught seafood imported to the U.S is estimated to originate from pirate fishing practices.
Some fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, also cause tremendous damage to the surrounding ecosystems. Bottom trawling is an industrial fishing method in which a large net with heavy weights is dragged across the seafloor, scooping up everything in its path. These nets are capable of destroying enormous swaths of fragile seafloor habitats, including fragile cold-water coral and sponge ecosystems. Once destroyed, these ancient and ecologically vital communities may take decades or longer to recover. Bottom trawling, as well as longlining and other fishing methods, are also notoriously unselective, catching and killing large numbers of non-target species, or bycatch, such as non-target fish species, corals, sponges, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals. Lost and abandoned gear can continue to ghost fish for years, entangling marine life drawn to the derelict nets.
Marine Conservation Institute has a long history of fighting against destructive fishing practices. We conduct research on the environmental impacts of fisheries, build predictive habitat models to identify biologically rich areas of the seafloor, and continue to advocate for the increased protection of ecologically important deep-sea habitats. As a leader in the California Seamounts Coalition, we work to conserve vital seamount habitats off the coast of California from destructive fishing practices. We also work closely with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition to eliminate bottom trawling and protect deep sea corals and other vulnerable marine ecosystems on the high seas.