Representative image. (Gary Rose/Pexels/Via Canva)

Representative image.

(Gary Rose/Pexels/Via Canva)

While Elon Musk has ambitious plans to carry life to the backup planet of Mars, the life-sustaining characteristics of our home planet are extremely unique. And that’s why we say there’s only one Earth!

The oceans that cover more than 70 per cent of Earth’s surface are among the primary reasons making the planet habitable. As the health of these oceans continues to deteriorate, we can no longer afford further destruction of this valuable biome. Several documentaries have tried to raise this awareness in recent times. Of which the Netflix film, Seaspiracy, turned out to be one of the most-watched documentaries of 2021.

And while the thought-provoking film encouraged several environment-enthusiasts to switch to a plant-based diet to protect our oceans and marine life, we cannot expect everyone to turn to veganism. For those who relished seafood throughout their life, sacrificing it seems next to impossible.

In such a scenario, various approaches are being attempted to protect our planet’s oceans and biodiversity. And if some of them work, you can have the cake and eat it too!

As we celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, the theme calls for ‘Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean’. Today, allow us to dive into the concept of sustainable fishing and seafood and how it might help restore our oceans.

What is sustainable fishing?

In addition to excessive seafood consumption, overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices are perhaps among the biggest threats to oceans’ resilience. This is where sustainable fishing comes into play, wherein fishers plan and harvest seafood at a rate where the fish population does not decline, and the equipment remains environment-friendly.

What problems does sustainable fishing address?

File Photo

(BCCL)

Overfishing: Overfishing is not just about the catch being more than its demand but also about the bycatch—excessive discards—that inflict unnecessary mortalities. Using gear that only targets target species comes in handy while practising sustainable fishing.

Ghost fishing: Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gears in the ocean often get entangled on rocky reefs or keep drifting in the open sea, posing a major threat to marine life. Moreover, such nets made of synthetic material linger in the oceans for a considerable time before degrading. Therefore, using biodegradable material and recycling nets rather than abandoning them in the oceans could help ease the problem of ghost fishing.

Is your seafood sustainable?

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Studies show that India’s urban seafood eaters consume only around 35 species, affecting the abundant untouched supply.

Sustainable seafood involves achieving a “balanced harvest”, thereby avoiding overfishing, especially for threatened species.

It is time to move on from the standard King Mackerel (Surmai), Indian Mackerel (Bangda), Pomfret and prawns and search for the locally available seasonal fish!

Why is shutting down fisheries industries across the world not a feasible option?

Representational Image (Antony Xavier/BCCL)

Representational Image

(Antony Xavier/BCCL)

A whopping 300 crore people worldwide rely on seafood as a primary source of protein. As per the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, around six crore people are employed in fishing (nearly four crores) and fish farming (2 crores) worldwide. Therefore, shutting down the industry means a lack of employment, which will impact economic growth.

Instead, improved fisheries management, investment in sustainable aquaculture, and protection of the key habitats could help restore the productivity of oceans and generate benefits worth billions of dollars while also ensuring sustainability, food security and jobs for coastal communities.

Do your bit, go vocal for local, and pledge to protect our oceans today!

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