Humans have relied on resources from the ocean since the beginnings of human existence on the planet. Population growth has increased demand for fishery species, which in combination with the negative impacts of other human activities has caused the decline of many commercial species throughout the world’s oceans.
- In 2006, scientists predicted there would be no wild fish to harvest from the ocean by the year 2048 at the current rate of overfishing (Worm et al. 2006).
- In addition to directly reducing population size, fishing can also destroy important habitat that fishery species live in. This occurs when methods such as bottom trawling are used, which involves dragging a net along the ocean bottom. This fishing method disturbs the bottom environment and damages slow-growing species such as corals that form important habitat for many species.
- Some methods of fishing also result in the unintentional catch of non-fishery species, or by-catch. Populations of by-catch species may also decline as a result of fishing activities.