Euronews View, 19 October 2020: As climate change begins to bite, ending overfishing will safeguard our oceans’ health
Oped by Prof Dr Rashid Sumaila, Dr Karina von Schuckmann and Rebecca Hubbard.
Humanity has a long history of overexploiting fish, the lifeblood of the ocean on which we depend. This never has a good outcome: no fish means no fisheries, jobs, seafood or incomes for coastal communities. Conversely, well-managed fisheries means an ocean that teems with life. This life not only provides us fish, it can also play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation. A healthy ocean ecosystem ensures that high levels of carbon can be sequestered below the waves. A healthy ocean is crucial to bolstering our planet against the worst impact of climate change.
All of these new pledges show that global leaders still aim to get us out of this planetary crisis we have created. But the EU, and governments worldwide, must match that ambition with action. They must eliminate carbon emissions, effectively protect at least 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030, and reduce destructive overfishing and publicly-funded subsidies that undermine our other efforts. We will very quickly be rewarded with higher catches for more fishers, a healthier ocean, and a stronger defence against climate change.
Healthy fish are like healthy people; a healthy person is more likely to survive an epidemic than a person who is unwell. Overfishing has severely weakened the ocean’s immune system, and climate change will only make things worse. If we continue to destroy the health of the ocean with destructive overfishing, it will have severe impacts on life in the ocean and on all our lives.