I would use this as my hashtag because it’s important to realize that though fish stocks are important for bringing in money for fishermen, they also are vital to certain ecosystems. Removing species in excess can cause dramatic shifts in ecosystems and food webs, some of which can’t be reversed.
An example of this occurred in the Donut Hole, the waters between the EEZs of the United States and the former USSR. Because the Donut Hole was international waters, fishing fleets from the US, USSR, and Japan fought to extract the most pollock from the areas. These fleets were driven by potential profit, and the belief that the stock was relatively inexhaustible was still in effect. Because of this, 13 million tons or approximately 20 billion pollock were removed from the Donut Hole and resulted in the collapse of the Aleutian Basin pollock stock. In 200, a test fishery was conducted and only caught two pollock. The primary species of fish caught were smooth lumpsuckers.
Changing the primary species in a habitat can have large effects on an ecosystem. Pollock provided a reliable food source for marine mammals like sea lions as well as seabirds. Without them, these predator groups had to shift to other food sources which may have been detrimental to their populations.
Today, we have so much research on how ecosystems function and how reliant they are on certain species. While there is still much to learn, we should take this information and realize that fish are not just for harvesting for profit, they are also key parts of the ocean ecosystem.