Decreasing fish stocks

Increased human demand for fish and subsidies for fishing fleets have resulted in too many boats chasing too few fish.

Two-thirds of the world's fish stocks are either fished at their limit or over fished. The UN food and agriculture organisation (FAO) has estimated that 70 percent of the fish population is fully used, overused or in crisis.

Plummeting numbers of fish have led some fisheries organisations, and some countries, to see whales as competitors for dwindling fish stocks.

Some cetacean species, such as minke whales, dolphins and porpoises, do indeed feed on commercially important fish species such as herring, cod and mackerel, as well as on other species without commercial value.

However, research concludes that whales are not responsible for degraded state of world's fisheries

Research by the Pew Foundation and WWF demonstrates that no scientific evidence currently exists that the culling of marine mammals will aid in the recovery of commercial fisheries, and that in some cases culling of marine mammals could actually be detrimental to fishing interests.

The best solution to the problem of declining fisheries is to rebuild overexploited stocks and ecosystems through relieving fishing pressure, improving gear selectivity and fishing exploitation patterns, protecting habitat and making a wise and generous use of protected areas and no-take zones.

Download the report: Who’s Eating All the Fish? [pdf, 1.2 MB]

Together we can make the world's oceans safe for whales. / ©: WWF / Ogilvy Indonesia
Together we can make the world's oceans safe for whales. Learn more about WWF's work to protect whales.
© WWF / Ogilvy Indonesia

Together we can make the world's oceans safe for whales. Learn more about WWF's work to protect whales.

Fisheries

Governments need to focus on the real reason for fisheries decline – unsustainable fishing operations
As fishing nations increase their efforts to pursue fewer fish, their impact on all marine life and habitats also increases.

Trawl fisheries, particularly in coastal areas, damage the seabed. In many cases, the area is trawled repeatedly before the ocean floor has been given enough time to recover. Scallop dredging also degrades cetacean habitats. The dredging process is so destructive to the ocean floor that it may be several years before there is any recovery.

The noise of the dredging process can carry for many miles, and may disturb the whales and dolphins that depend upon sound to navigate, communicate and find prey.

Read the WWF report: Hard Facts, Hidden Problems: A Review of Current Data on Fishing Subsidies

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