Introductory Assignment- Health of the world’s Fisheries

How healthy are global fish stocks? Ranked 1 to 10 (1 healthy, 10 is in peril)

-consider ‘health’ to be holistic and not just limited to abundance of the fish themselves


How do you know? 

-consider what motivated your answer

What do you think? Share your thoughts and ideas with the class by 11:59 pm Wednesday August 25th, 2021. Use the comment feature on this post to respond (click the ‘leave a comment’ icon to get going).

36 thoughts on “Introductory Assignment- Health of the world’s Fisheries”

  1. To me this question varies if we are discussing solely economically important fish stocks, species important to indigenous cultures, or every other fish stock that isn’t economically important but is important to their ecosystem.
    For economically important and indigenous important fish I would rate it fairly low, probably 5 or 6. Due to the overharvest of the fish we commonly eat, those stocks tend to be fished down to the wire. For stocks of indigenous importance, they normally face different issues. Issues such as blocking of migration pathways, introduction of invasive species, and polluted waters degrade these communities of fish.
    For all other “non-important” stocks of fish, I would rate higher, probably an 8, but degrading due to the elimination of their cohorts from their ecosystems. Ecosystems are very finely balanced, and even the depletion of one stock that may not seem important can have cascading effects. for example, the overharvest of river fish and blocking of migration patterns of anadromous and catadromous fish has led to a decline in mussels in the same rivers. This is due to the underabundance of hosts for the mussel larvae. We must assume that similar cascades are happening in places we cant see well or arent studying.
    This is all based of my personal viewpoint on the issues facing all three populations of fish.

    1. I thought it was wise to acknowledge that the answer would vary from fish stock to fish stock. I wonder if there are stocks that have improved due to human intervention or the suffering of other fish stocks that may have been competing for the same resources?

    2. I appreciate how in your reply you talk about how a depleted fish stock compromises the overall health of the ecosystem, and I like the example you gave. It is important to recognize that every population is different and has different limiting factors. This being said, the factors you associate with not harvested populations apply to economically important fish as well.

  2. On a scale of one to ten, I would give the general well-being of global fish stocks between a 7 and 8, taking into account that I am not an expert. Economically valuable fish are severely overharvested, with negative consequences on the environment and ecosystem. In addition to our actions in the oceans, our behavior on land also results in the declining health of marine animals. Even if fish stocks could be considered safe from harm via fishing, other things like pollution, agricultural runoff, and coastline development also negatively impact the marine environment and all the species that exist in them.

    My perspective on the health of global fish and marine life has been greatly molded by the fisheries and ocean science courses I have taken in the past. While learning about the history and evolution of the fishing industry, it was impossible not to recognize the extent of the damage that human activity has had on the health and diversity of the oceans. Although I can say for certain that the oceans today are in a pitiful state compared to what they once were, I also admit that my knowledge regarding global fish stocks today is limited. I hope to learn more about that this semester though!

    1. Felicia, I really loved how you added something about our behavior on land: this is something that is often overlooked by people discussing the overall health of the ocean in general, but something that we as humans need to become more conscious of.

    2. I completely agree with you when you said, “our behavior on land also results in the declining health of marine animals.” So much plastic waste on land ends up in the ocean & that is all humans’ fault! It doesn’t matter if fisheries manage overfishing, that’s not the only big problem.

    3. There are clear negative impacts to the over harvesting of different fisheries across the world. The impact of human populations on land and the chemical run off that fuels algae blooms can create toxic zones killing everything in its wake. These variables along with global warming make our current trajectory unsustainable. You made a very good point about not being able to fully see the extent of the damage. So much of these effects compound one another that it will be nearly impossible to truly know just how detrimental we are on all the marine species in one way or another.

    4. You are right in that the oceans populations are generally seen as a fraction of what they used to be. Another thing I liked about your post is that you recognized less biological factors are impacting marine fauna as well. I would like see some mention of how in very recent history humans have started moving in the right direction with sustainable fisheries practices being implemented.

    5. I think it is great that you looked past simply harvesting fish and also considered how non fishing activities have taken a toll on global fish stocks. I think it is good you are able to apply what you have learned from courses in the past to this discussion post. I am sure as long as we keep working to get our task done we will learn a lot about today’s global fish stocks and be on our way to eventually becoming experts!

  3. I’d say about a 6-7. I have not personally read much about fish stocks lately, but over the years I have heard and read in different outlets news ranging from people eating lead-poisoned fish as the result of industrial pollution, various oil companies accidentally dumping metric tons of oil in the ocean, fish populations becoming endangered due to unsustainable exploitation and pollution, invasive species affecting ecosystems in rivers and lakes, and generally, how the ocean is full of trash.
    I do wonder whether things are better or worse than the picture I have in my head, but I do hope it is not as bad as I think.

  4. I would rank the global fish stocks holistic health as a six, with one being phenomenal and ten being in peril. What leads me to this conclusion is my limited knowledge gained from reading various articles on my Google feed and watching Netflix specials on the oceans. It seems that many of these articles and programs have a very doom and gloom approach to the current state of the earth’s fisheries. I would like to think that although things may be bad, it is not always as disastrous as made out to be on television and in news articles, though I concede that it very well could be that bad. My assessment is also due in part to what I have learned about the current state of our earth’s health regarding climate change and human pollution. Regardless of how many fish there are, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, micro plastics, the recently discovered DDT dump site off the coast of California, and rising water temperatures in our streams and oceans must be doing much damage to the overall health of our ocean’s fisheries. The reason I did not go all the way to a ten is because I believe that conservationists as well as environmental protections put in place around the globe must be making a difference to some extent; however, more needs to be done to ensure that our future generations do not lose the fisheries that we still have today. I found this a great way to begin the class because it was quite humbling to reflect upon how little I know about the current state of the fisheries I claim to care very much about. I am looking forward to learning from scholarly sources, rather than mainstream media, and gaining a better understanding of what can be done to promote the health of the globe’s fisheries.

    1. It is definitely something to keep in mind when looking at news reports and pop-science articles that they often get more clicks and therefore money off of the doom and gloom reports. It’s upsetting often because I know there are fisheries managers and politicians and anglers trying their best to manage fish stocks well, but all people know are the bad things that happen. It’s easier to market outrage against a group of people than to make an article that says everyone is working hard and maybe it’ll be better in the future.
      It’s very hard to measure the overall health of fisheries, because so many species are so different from each other and have different life cycles. It takes a lot of money and time to get an idea of what we need to do, and it doesn’t seem like we have much of that time or money left.

  5. In my opinion, the global fisheries are at a rating of 7 out of 10. 1 being healthy and 10 being in peril. My reasoning for the grim rating is that the delicate balance of the worlds oceans, lakes, and rivers are all being effected by many different variables at once. Global warming and the less predictable down and up welling produce less and less nutrients to certain areas. As the water ocean temperatures warm, the currents produced by these different water temperatures begin to lessen in efficacy of nutrient and fish spawn movements. Coupled with over fishing on a global scale and we have a large in balance of not only bio mass in certain fish species but invasive or otherwise problematic species are taking the dominant tropic level positions while creating problems in other areas. A great example is the explosion in jelly fish numbers. By themselves jelly fish are an essential part of the ecosystem and co inhabit ecosystems with other plants, fish and marine mammals. As predators are over fished, these small fast producing invertebrates begin to multiply out of control. Producing nutrient and sunlight absorbing masses that threaten every species in their wake. This is just one of many situations playing out all over the world. As we begin to further feed our global appetite, the maritime farming of certain fish species has proven to be extremely toxic to the environment. In order for the fish to meet FDA standards they have to be parasite free which means the fish constantly filter pesticides as well as other additives that run it to the surrounding fisheries. Producing unwanted and unknown effects as all these chemicals compound in the surrounding areas. The rating of 7 is because we are not at a sustainable level, although in my opinion there are some areas where we are moving in the right direction.

    1. Hello Joe,
      I was on the same page as you with giving the rating of a 7. World fishing stocks are not being managed at a sustainable level and if this rate continues, the situation without a doubt will become even more peril.

  6. I believe our global fish stocks health overall is a 6 out of 10, with the scale being 1 as healthy and 10 as peril. I believe this because our environment is constantly being affected by our day to day actions good or bad. Also, our fish populations are not growing as big as they could be due to overfishing whether that be for need, market or sport: legal/illegal. For example, sharks are being caught, fins are being cut off, and they are being dumped to sink to the bottom of the ocean. What once was a predator, eating fish to keep populations down, are now on the verge of extinct because of over fishing for fine dining.
    Over the past 100-500 years, the rate of global warming has dramatically increased due to Humans and our need to thrive and be number successful. We are building luxurious housing, buying the best cars/trucks that pollute the atmosphere, getting boats to spend Sundays on the open water with friends. Whatever it might be, we are speeding up global warming with all of these fancy things, which is affecting our oceans, rivers, streams, etc, where the fish are. The ice is melting and causing the oceans to rising, which is changing ecosystems, it is warmer sooner in the year, etc. Farmers are also adding to the issues with livestock and the gasses and waste they produce, that ultimately could run into the neighboring stream into the river and pollute it . There needs to be a happy medium that everyone understands to try and protect the environment so that way we can try and bring back these healthy fish, and populations that were around 1000 years ago before we overfished, and contaminated the waters. Some aspects of the world changes are being made but we have to do better as a whole.

  7. Overall, I think certain fish stocks have been on the decline for awhile, yet others are doing just fine. I would maybe rate them as a whole at 5. Some species can handle commercial fisheries, while others can’t. For example, abalone are slow growing and easily over harvested, southeast Alaska’s own commercial abalone fishery collapsed because the abalone population couldn’t support that level of harvest. In recent years they’ve been able to make a big comeback, which I’ve been able to see for myself. I owe a lot of what I know about global and local fish stocks to Fish 103, working for ADF&G in Sitka and Fairbanks, fisheries news, and my fishermen friends.

    1. Payton, I like how you added in your own perspective on abalone overharvest, but also noted how they have made a comeback. It is important to note that there are some species that do regrow in numbers after being exploited, and looking at how they did that and what humans did to help speed up that process is vital as well.

  8. The global fish stocks are 6 out of 10, 1 as healthy and 10 as in peril. I give this rating because of how we, as humans, treat our surroundings. A lot of what is happening to our earth is due to humans, such as plastic waste. According to an article by Condor Ferries, there are over 5 million micro and macro plastic pieces in the ocean, and they are being absorbed by marine life. Humans have polluted the waters with waste and overfish as well. However, fish management has been trying to solve overfishing and keep fish stocks up. When they are involved, ecosystems flourish, thrive, and fish stocks increase significantly. Unfortunately, only half the world’s fish population is monitored which makes it increasingly hard to maintain stocks and keep overfishing numbers down. Climate change has a massive impact as well, rising temperatures affect reproduction and food for fish. Most fish migrate due to breeding or food reasons so temperatures increasing drastically affect their normal routine. Also, another huge impactor is the tourism end of it all, coral reefs are constantly being killed/harmed by boat traffic, chemicals, and people swimming. Fish’s habitat and ecosystem are being destroyed due to humans’ carelessness.
    My views on the health of oceans and the life that is within them have come mostly from my own experiences as well as online articles I have read. As a certified scuba diver, I see many people constantly trashing coral reefs, harassing marine life, and dumping trash in the ocean. More people need to be aware of how badly they are harming their earth and be taught a different path towards sustainability so we can keep trash out of our waters and keep marine life alive.

  9. I think that the global fish stocks are right around a 6 or 5 and declining. Based on what we see in grocery stores, with artificial colored and farmed fish, and the overall quality of the fish that are being sold, it tells me suppliers are turning to other, not so healthy, but semi-sustainable means to meet the demands of the public, but this does not help the sustainability of natural fisheries. Also as someone who fishes, in rivers and lakes, the catch rate is declining, which tells me, that even local fish and game hatcheries cannot keep up with demand or recreational fishing. There are also environmental factors; for example the nuclear accident in Japan that has impacted fishing grounds, and plenty of other issues in general like waste in lakes and rivers, flotsam, and oil spills etc. And, as someone who dives in larger inland body’s of water like Lake Tahoe, you don’t see many fish, and though they may be hiding, I’ve rarely seen the lakes famed Mackinaw or even rainbow trout.

    1. The state of the fish and other seafood stocked in grocery stores is something I think about often. People can easily identify cows, chickens, pigs, but almost no one can point out what a tuna or sea bass is. On top of this, there are so many issues with mislabeling fish in the grocery store. It works, because to many people they all look the same or different species are very similar. This leads to things like escolar being labeled as “white tuna,” labeling different eels as different species to avoid law enforcement and more. Food fraud is a big issue in seafood.

  10. I think that the world’s fish stocks are 6-7 out of 10. In fish 103 I read “The Unnatural History of the Sea” by Callum Roberts. What I got from the book and its ending is that fish stocks are declining but there is still time to reverse the damages. The reason I rate it to be unhealthy is that the downward trend is going to continue unless the general public knows more about why oceans are important and the impact they have on the ocean in their daily lives.
    I think that every issue that is affecting the ocean can be indirectly or directly linked to human activity. If the general public, at least in America, was better educated on the ocean, then there might be an awareness of their actions.

  11. The health of global fish stocks is impossible to fit onto a “1-10” scale, but for this post I would rate them at a 6/7. The exact number of fishes, or if fisheries have downsized, or overall abundance of fish is important for determining the health of fish stocks, but not the most accurate study. I got my number rating from focusing on the fact that fish species–even if they are not currently being overfished–are still sought after in excessive amounts. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in 2020 that per capita fish consumption grows roughly 1.5% annually: that data was collected over a 57 year period.

    We can look at individual fish stocks or fisheries around the world and assume that they are thriving, or at least not rapidly declining based off of the numbers commercial fleets are harvesting, but even that is a distorted and misrepresented way to look at it. A major issue surrounding the health of fish stocks is that studies are current–you have to dig into journals and scientific articles to see in-depth reports about the potential future of our fish stocks.

    Part of what motivated my answer was that I’m someone who supports (sustainable) fishing, but also someone who is not in any way attached to commercial fishing, despite having lived my entire life in places where fishing is the lifeblood of the communities. I understand the importance of fishing, but I can also very easily take into consideration the future of fisheries. It’s not the number of fish now that matters so much as the growing need for fishing. You can’t fish from a drained ocean. I don’t think I can rate the health of fish stocks any lower on the 1-10 scale because I don’t think we should be focused on repairing damaged fisheries just to make them collapse again.

    1. I liked your post because I felt like you were able to highlight how difficult it can be to know the overall health of global fisheries. I am unfamiliar with recent harvest statistics so it was helpful to get your perspective and see how that can be useful in determining the health of fisheries.

  12. In my opinion, I think that fish stocks are not healthy at all. On a scale, I would give them a 9 towards the peril side. There are multiple articles about fish populations declining because of overstocked fish stocks which is causing them to develop more diseases. I have also read articles about how fish stocks have been heavily declining because of the fish living conditions. People have the tendency to overfish for the money and it is causing some downfall on the health of the fish stocks from them not caring about if the fish live. Furthermore, there are many worries within marine research centers that predict the extinction of multiple fish species because of the downfall in health of fish stocks.

  13. Due to factors such as pollution, overfishing, and climate change, I would rank the health of global fish stocks at a 7. In addition to the declining population of fish, physical health of global fish stocks is being harmed by overgrowth of algae, lack of food, changing water temperatures. Global fish stocks are also overexploited, which lowers populations and disrupts food chains.

  14. Given what I’ve learned of the climate surrounding our oceans and those who reside within it from a One Health course I took last year, as well as observing the declining rate of fish population in the waters of Alaska, I would place the health of global fish stocks as a 6 or 7. While we are not yet facing a point of no return, commercial demand for fish within tourist fishing circles and big chain supermarkets, alongside the issue we face of unethical fish farming undoubtedly curates an environment where the livelihood of fish in our waters is declining as the demand for these specimens goes up, thus leading to unhealthy means to an end. On top of overfishing and unhealthy, farmed fish being used to satiate capital greed for fish as a resource, increasingly prevalent environmental concern also holds responsibility in the declining health of our waters and fish, interchangeably. Not only pollution in the waters, but the visible increase in temperature throughout the streams in which our fish traverse in a lifetime greatly damages our global fish stock’s health. Pollution, of course, results in disease and other health decifates, while the ever warming waters directly cut fish lives short before they can begin the new generation, as the warmer their environment is, the more fat they burn, causing premature death before spawning. To find resolve in this issue, all we can do is let the waters and fish themselves heal. Pulling back on fishing and farming, actively fighting against climate change, and keeping our oceans healthy is what we can contribute to aid and restore the health of fish across the world to what it once was.

    1. I agree with your assessment of the global fisheries being closer to the perilous side than healthy. As well as your reasoning behind these declines. There are many variables to consider, some of which are man made and some of which are cyclical global patterns that compound the problem none the less.
      We will not only need to stop our current behavior but also adjust for the changing future.

  15. Based on classes I have previously taken along with working with aquatic science as a field tech, I would rate global fish stocks as a 7. I have learned that fish stocks could be as low as 80 percent of what they were centuries ago. A large theme behind FISH 103 was throughout ocean harvesting history, people have had a serial pattern of destroying or severely reducing populations. In recent history, this pattern has been hindered. I am optimistic in how over recent decades many countries have recognized the much-needed control of harvests. Many states have implemented Exclusive Economic Zones that reduce the competition, help with accurate population estimates and harvests, and add recognition of the necessity of preserving these stocks. Another factor that contributes to my high score is the effect that people are having on the ocean’s chemistry along with its physical properties. Even with a sustainable harvesting practices, pollution and rising temperatures could have very drastic and unpredictable effect on marine populations. Destruction of habitat is permanent damage in an ecosystem that often cannot be reversed. In my experience and learning, fish populations will rapidly change when the environments start to become unfavorable or favorable to any of the creatures in their shared system. While I am optimistic about the techniques being implemented to sustainably harvest fish, I believe there is a long way to go, and a lot of science needed to figure out how we can sustainably treat our ocean.

  16. I would rate the overall health of global fish stocks as a 6. The decline of Peruvian anchovy fisheries in the 1970’s and the collapse of the Newfoundland cod fisheries in 1992 served as a wake up call to the global community. Since then, over 200 nautical miles of protected zones have been set up, allowing local fish populations a chance to recover. However, the overarching problems of pollution and increasing acidification of the oceans are stifling the ability of fish to recover from human intervention. While these protected zones help, as do practices such as aquaculture, fish are struggling to recover from the aforementioned problems that are only getting worse. In addition to these problems, the human population is still increasing, which leads to a greater demand of seafood. This only places greater strain on fish populations. My rating is as high as a six because, quite frankly, I am optimistic about the global community’s willingness to act on this issue. Though my understanding is that the overall situation is not great, I do think that people will realize the significance of this issue soon enough and act. I could be wrong, but hopefully not. The sources of my specific claims are listed below.

    1. I appreciate that you mentioned the global population as putting a strain on global fisheries. I think that is a very good point, and as the population increases in developing countries I wonder if conservation of fisheries will be a priority for those nations? It should be, but I suspect that it will get pushed aside as they try to feed their populations in the short-term.

      1. There’s this organization called Environmental Defense Fund they market incentives on how we can preserve our ocean wildlife buy implements the critical environmental problems and advocating to strict guideline for the over harvesting in the sea. Weather or not it takes in our nations to grasp and be proactive it will be a only a matter of time.

  17. On the ranking scale of 1 to 10 for the health of the world fisheries (1 being the healthiest and 10 being almost completely destroyed) , I would rank it around 6. The reasoning behind this ranking is the imbalance of resource extraction that mankind has placed on the oceans, streams and rivers. Most fish stock population that we consume are robust enough to with stand the fishing pressures being paced upon them. If they weren’t they would not be around today so a few extinct fisheries do come to mind. These fish stocks are not infinite, sooner or later high fishing pressure will wipe them out.

    Farm fish stocks have been developed to supplement the demand from the sea. The framed fish stocks have diseases that spread from the stocks to wild ones and insufficient ; sometimes toxic meat from farmed fish mean they are not the replacement for commercial fishing.

    There are good years of fishing and there are bad years of fishing. Depending on the ocean temperatures, weather patterns, food availability, recruitment, fishing pressure the previous year, etc. Fish stocks in the oceans will be consistent, but the stocks that have to return to streams, lakes, and rivers, or liver there year-round will be highly impacted by man. Wild salmon stocks have been greatly diminished by urban development on the North American continent. There are still huge amounts of salmon to be caught, but less wild and more hatchery.

  18. My apologies for the late submission and the possibility of submitting this assignment in the wrong way. I just changed my major and was added to this course last Friday and missed the live class meeting. As for the discussion question, I would rate global fish stocks to be ranks a 7 leaning toward the peril side of the spectrum. I am aware the over/ illegal fishing is an issue in today’s oceans and the demand for fish is not decreasing. If the fishing industry continues at the current rate, this rating would without a doubt increase. However right now, since there is still fish left to be caught, I would not rate it any worse than a 7. Fish populations are no where near as abundant as they use to be in the past and as long humans are intervening with the natural world, the ecosystems will never return to what they once were. We have to find a balance with harvesting food for ourselves while keeping in mind the health of our waters. Some may make the argument that farmed fish help save the natural population which is true when looking at just the numbers of where fish are being taken, but it is proven that fish farms are detrimental to the environment as they are heavy pollutants and can spread disease rapidly within and the areas around the farm which makes them a poor option to fix these problems. On top of directly harvesting fish, the result of human pollution also negatively affects fish populations as the chemicals and micro-plastics build up in the water and are ultimately consumed by the fish resulting in their deaths. There is still hope for the global fish stocked to as long as us humans can take responsibility to prevent further worsening the issue.

  19. Ocean stocks are in peril I believe it’s a high 8/9 , in a website called marine bio there’s an article called seafood could collapse in 2050 , stated that 29% of the fish and seafood species collapsed due to the high demand of the population growth . The higher harvesting for the marina increases and we leave no room for regrowth, or anything to bounce back. Its within reason with a small percentage that we have left over our oceans will fall much sooner that anticipated by our scientists. Unless we change it’ll keep depleting and won’t have any chance to turn back the clock.

  20. I do believe the fish supply is very unhealthy. We have many issues that would be the cause as to why it is unhealthy. Most people would say how can you say it is unhealthy when people are meeting their quota of how many salmon they are getting, but in reality the numbers of salmon in Alaska are very low compared to past numbers. Our oceans and local areas of fish are effected by many different factors that we need to start paying attention to and try to make a change in our ways to make a change in these low numbers.

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