We see fish everywhere. Whether it be in the stores that we buy from, the restaurants we eat at, the harbors that we go to, or even the ocean that we swim in... they seem to be in countless supply and around every corner. Unfortunately, that's where many of us are mistaken. I am personally an avid fish-eater myself, so I'm not trying to guilt you into never looking at fish again. However, it is important to think about how we can catch and eat fish sustainably.
"Sustainable" fishing is hook & line, or really anything that is discriminant, or only catches one fish at a time with a target organism without any bycatch. Bycatch is any non-target, such as sharks or turtles, that are caught accidentally with the targeted fish due to netting or indiscriminate fishing tactics. Industrial fishing uses less sustainable tacts such as long-lining, trawling, and nets. Long-lining was invented by the Japanese, and it is miles of baited hooks in pelagic (open ocean) areas, having the ability to catch many fish at once. Trawling is dragging a crate across the bottom of the ocean to catch fish, which not only isn't discriminant, but also can damage the sea grasses and corals on the sea floor. Netting is pretty self-explanatory, yet it often catches dolphins/sharks/turtles in them as well, impacting the environment with heavy force.
To put it in perspective, it is estimated that 90% of the "big fish" have been caught from the ocean, leaving 10% for us. Since fishing isn't a one-by-one process, often the fish caught are too young and then it potentially knocks out several generations of fish that could have reproduced before being eaten.
It is difficult to know how to help limit this process as many of us are not actively involved in the fishing community. However, I recommend doing a few things to help decrease this problem:
1) Sign petitions on Oceana, talk to your representatives, and try to get legislation passed to outlaw fishing processes that aren't sustainable.
2) Limit how much fish you eat, and make sure only to eat fish that are considered sustainable. Fish that are more sustainable are those that have better reproductive cycles to reproduce in high quantities quickly, those who are caught in a way that isn't indiscriminate, etc. You can find fish that meet this criteria on Monterey Bay Aquarium's SeaFood Watch website and application where it tells you what fish & sushi are sustainable compared to others.
3) Spread the word to others! Make sure to ask restaurants if they serve sustainable options. Make sure others know about this issue.
We have to act fast if we want our fish supply to stay intact. Otherwise, we will lose a huge food source, a big part of our economy, and a cultural aspect of many people's lives.