Impacts of whitefish fishing | WWF

Impacts of whitefish fishing

Most commercially important whitefish stocks are overfished, with some species classified as vulnerable or even endangered. But there is a way out where both the fisheries industry and wild-fish stocks are winners.
WWF cares about whitefish because they are key components of the food chain and live in areas we seek to protect.

But today, most commercially important whitefish stocks are overfished which has detrimental effects on the health and balance of the marine ecosystems around the planet. For example, overfishing of Patagonian toothfish and orange roughy has lead to their commercial extinction in almost all fisheries, and overfishing of cod will lead to potential extinction within the next 15 years if strong measures are not taken soon.

Poor fisheries management is the root cause of the issue. Only an "ecosystem based management" (EBM) approach and a strong enforcement of regulations could make it possible to sustain healthy marine biodiversity and fisheries.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a great threat to a variety of species and habitats and thus, to the sustainability of fisheries worldwide, and especially in the Arctic seas. This is of concern because 20 to 25% of the global whitefish catch comes from just two Arctic fisheries alone.

Unsustainable fishing practices such as bottom trawling also threaten many other endangered and not yet endangered species that are accidentally caught in the net (i.e. bycatch) and damage vulnerable marine ecosystems in shallow and deep waters.

Be part of the solution

► Fish traders, processors, and retailers can stimulate more transparency in fisheries by selectively buying seafood products from fisheries with low or no bycatch, and that have been certified according to the standards of the MSC.

Consumers can search for MSC-certified products to find seafood caught and/or processed by companies that have taken steps to reduce their negative impacts on the marine environment.

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