Looking beneath the Surface – The Hidden Scandals of the Commercial Fishing Industry

The commercial fishing industry is responsible for the destruction of sea wildlife. Fishing practices have not only damaged the habitats of some of the underwater life, but also have killed some of these species unintentionally. This makes commercial fishing a great threat to the survival of different populations, such as sharks, turtles, whales, seabirds or dolphins. These deaths are the result of bottom trawling, ghost fishing, bycatch as well as the use of poison and explosives.


Trawl fishing (Source here)

Many different populations worldwide are being largely impacted through different methods of commercial fishing. The WWF predict that around 300,000 larger sea life species are killed by this cause every year. This is mainly from bycatch, where non-target fauna are thrown back into the sea, already dead or wounded. This includes millions of tons thrown over-board per year.  Nets lost unintentionally in the sea also contribute to the bycatching.  These nets last a long time due to the material they are made of. This problem is called ghost fishing.

Bottom trawling is one of the most destructive fishing methods, destroying the environment of underwater life. These large nets pulled along the seabed damage the environment necessary for the sea life to survive, including shelter and resources. Large nets can damage more than 4km of seabed. It becomes very difficult for the flora and fauna below the surface of the water to recover. Not only does this method damage the environment of the wildlife, but also is a cause of bycatch. The impacted species suffer from pain, suffocation and exhaustion.

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(Source here)

The use of poison and explosives has increased over the years. Both poison and explosions damage great areas of ecosystems, not only impacting the targeted species. An example of poison would include cyanide, used in several areas as a fishing method. Explosives, often covering an area of 10 to 20 square meters, are also affecting the other non-target species. This can cause long-term or permanent damage.

The damaging of flora and fauna underwater through non-selective commercial fishing methods is a major problem. The use of technology to develop more selective fishing gear is being supported more and more, though not enough to eliminate or largely reduce the avoidable suffering of many different seawater species.


“Bycatch.” World Wild Life. WWF, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.

“Destructive Fishing Practices and Bycatch.” Slow Fish. Slow Food, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.

“Impact of Unsustainable Fishing Practices on Sea Bed and Ocean Productivity.” GRID-Arendal. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.

By Lena (MYP5)


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