Keeping Oceans Healthy Starts with Fisheries
Why Fish are Key to Healthy Oceans
- Why Fish are Key to Healthy Oceans
- Fish Are on the Move
- Fisheries Under Pressure
- New Management Solutions
- The Role of the Seafood Industry
- Our Oceans, Our Prosperity
Fish are key to human well-being – and a thriving natural world. They are the cornerstone of the ocean’s food chain, protein for roughly 3 billion people and a driver of hundreds of millions of jobs globally.
Fish - and the oceans that sustain them – are facing big challenges. But with these challenges also come opportunities to protect ocean health.
· Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018
· Science: Impacts of Historical Warming on Marine Fisheries Production
Scientific models have shown what fishing communities are seeing firsthand – the world’s fish are on the move as ocean temperatures increase.
For example, a study of 686 U.S. fish species showed that if climate change continues unchecked, West Coast canary rockfish could migrate north as much as 800 miles from their Washington fishery to Alaska. Research shows fish are occupying new habitat 10 times faster than species on land. This mass migration of fish species will only increase as global warming forces them to seek out cooler waters. That means we need to change how we manage fisheries.
In addition to climate change, fisheries are under pressure from increasing demand.
Reducing fishing pressure by keeping fishery production below this limit is crucial to long-term sustainability – especially in the face of climate change.
Fortunately, sustainable fishery management is on the rise – and the Walton Family Foundation oceans initiative is working to advance sustainability in key countries and seafood markets. But there’s still a lot of work to do – and nations around the globe are seeking management solutions that ensure fisheries are resilient in the face of climate change.
Countries must improve management and collaboration across national boundaries to ensure fisheries and the communities that depend on them continue to thrive.
For example, as fish stocks move rapidly into new waters in Chile and Peru, government officials, scientists and fishermen in both countries are working together to develop new approaches in response to protect the health and abundance of these fisheries.
Seafood markets and demand also have a crucial role to play. Consumers are becoming more engaged in their food choices and their habits are evolving. Seafood industry leaders, like the members of Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS), are recognizing how sustainability is key to the long-term success of their business.
Companies now realize that it’s impossible to sell fish if there aren’t any left. Companies will need to stay focused on sustainability as climate-related fish migration increases.
If you take care of fish, you’re taking care of the ocean - creating a world where people and nature can prosper together. There are practical things we can, and should, do to make a difference – and fish are an important place to start.
Taking care of fish means taking care of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the prosperity of our global economy.