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Effects Of Overfishing Atlantic Cod On East Coast Ecosystems

923 words - 4 pages

Overfishing is a global issue that has many negative effects on the environment (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2009). Fish are a major resource that many people rely on for not only nutrition, but also for a means of income (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2009). As the population of the world increases, so does the demand for fish, which puts oceans under a lot of pressure (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2009). Due to advanced fishing technologies and equipment, going out further into the oceans and catching huge amounts of fish is easier than ever (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2009). Froese (2004) defines overfishing as capturing the fish before they reach their full growth potential and ...view middle of the document...

, 2005; Scheffer et al., 2005). Worm and Myers (2003) show how there was a large increase in shrimp populations following the decrease of the Atlantic Cod, which supports the “top-down” view and implies that overfishing of oceanic predators can have huge effects on lower trophic levels of oceanic food webs. The snow crab population is also increasing (Frank et al., 2005; Scheffer et al., 2005). This increase has led to the decrease in the large-bodied zooplankton species (>2 mm) because this is what the shrimp and crab populations prefer to feed off of (Frank et al., 2005; Scheffer et al., 2005). Now that the zooplankton abundance isn’t as high, the phytoplankton population has increased, which is due to the reduced pressure being put on them by the zooplankton (Frank et al., 2005; Scheffer et al., 2005). Lastly, the concentration of nitrate is lower, which suggests the phytoplankton populations are depleting it more strongly (Frank et al., 2005; Scheffer et al., 2005). These changes in the ecosystem can be quite harmful and can lead to breakouts of disease in the lower trophic levels because the populations become so dense that they are more prone to catching a disease (Jackson et al., 2001).
As one can see, overfishing is a serious issue with serious consequences. Froese (2004) suggests three ways to deal with overfishing: ‘Let them spawn!’, Let them grow!’, and ‘Let the mega-spawners live!’. The first idea suggests that the fish be allowed to spawn at least once before they are caught. This will allow the population to rebuild and remain healthy (Froese, 2004). The second idea suggests that the fish be allowed to grow to ±10% of their optimum length, which again would...

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