Today’s commercial fishers use vast trawlers the size of football fields. These huge nets, sometimes miles long, stretch across the ocean, swallowing up everything in their path and killing countless animals in addition to those they are intended to catch. Factory trawlers are emptying the oceans of sea life at an alarming pace. Thirteen of the 17 major global fisheries are depleted or in serious decline. The other four are “overexploited” or “fully exploited.” I’ll never forget one fisher who operated a small fishing boat in Washington state. She said to me of an otter who had died in her net that day, “Anything stupid enough to get in my net deserves to die.” Nearly one-third of all species of fish have declined in population in the last 15 years, and many species may be wiped out in the next decade. The decline in fish populations is leading to increasing conflicts between fishers and the wildlife who eat fish. Some fishers intentionally kill or maim seals, birds, and marine mammals whom they perceive as a threat to their catch. Some species are in decline as a result of fishing. The number of Steller’s sea lions in the Bering Sea has declined by 80 percent since the 1950s. An estimated 100,000 seals, whales, and porpoises and a million birds every year become entangled in nets and drown. Because dolphins habitually swim with schools of tuna, the tuna fishing industry even today “accidentally” drowns at least 20,000 of these intelligent mammals annually. Critically endangered sea turtles have been killed incidentally by the thousands by shrimp trawlers. Eating one fish results in the deaths of many.
For more information, click here.