Is Fishing Hurting Our Ocean?

Anna Sampson, Student

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There are so many different ways to fish, some dating back to hundreds of years ago. These ways vary so much throughout the world, depending on climate and what methods are needed to catch certain types of sea animals for food. Also, each of these methods have different negative impacts on our environment.

In Gloucester, we are used to hearing of a method called trawling, which is mainly used for catching cod, groundfish, and squid. However, in Alaska and Canada, Gillnets are used to catch salmon, sardines, and cod. Longlining in the

Bottom Trawl

Northeast is used to catch fish such as Tuna, Halibut, or Swordfish. There are many different ways of fishing for different sea creatures, and these methods all have their own controversies about if they are healthy for the environment

In Gloucester, fishermen use trawling to catch cod, groundfish, and squid. A trawl is a large net that is used to drag across the bottom of the sea floor by boats, picking up groundfish as it is dragged across the ocean floor. The controversy on trawling is that the motion of the net being dragged across the floor disturbs other sea creatures living there, and can pull up fish that are illegal along with the legal sized fish. According to an article from the Christian Science Monitor, they mention that it also hurts the


ecosystem underwater, “Bottom trawling – dragging nets across the sea floor to scoop up fish – stirs up the sediment lying on the seabed, displaces or harms some marine species, causes pollutants to mix into plankton and move into the food chain and creates harmful algae blooms or oxygen-deficient dead zones.” This type of fishing has seemed most frowned upon for the hazards it causes by the nets dragged across the sea floor.

In Canada and Alaska, Gillnets are used to catch salmon, sardines, and cod. The nets consist of floatation devices on the top edge of the nets that

Gill net

hold the net to the surface of the water, the bottom line of the floor of the sea is weighted. Fish will try to swim through the net and get caught by their gills, when pulled out, fish come out with the net. This type of fishing can often be bad for other marine life because it is not selective. Any other creatures can get trapped or caught in the net. Such as turtles, marine mammals, and even birds. This can cause these animals to be injured or killed by the netting.

Another common type of fishing in the northeast is called longlining, which is often used to catch swordfish, tuna, and halibut. A longline uses a fishing line with baited hooks that are placed in “intervals” along the line. Hundreds, or, thousands of hooks could be attached to only one line, and these longlines can be placed towards the sea floor, or towards the surface. The problem with longlines is that any marine animal can be attracted to baited hooks such as killer and sperm whales, sea turtles, seals, and other fish that would be considered bycatch. This harms any of these animals that could be caught or tangled in the line. These animals could be killed or injured unnecessarily.

In conclusion, although some types of fishing are not considered harmful to underwater ecosystems, many commercial types of fishing cause immense harm over time to other marine life ecosystems. Trawling disturbs and smooths over the sea floor, destroying habitats and the ecosystem of creatures living on the seafloor. Gillnets are non-selective and catch other sea animals, harming sea mammals, unwanted fish, and even aquatic birds. Lastly, longlining harms animals that get caught and tangled in the line. These types of commercial fishing hurt the ecosystem of sea life and will cause greater damage over time.