In the United States, it’s easy to understand the lure of a career as a professional fisherman, but in many places around the world, it may be harder.
And yet, there’s no denying that the demand for seafood has grown dramatically, with global demand for fish reaching a record high last year.
The number of people in the world who say they have a fishing license is up by nearly 20 million since 2009, and the number of commercial fishing vessels is up nearly 4 million, according to a report from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The U.S. government reports that the global market for seafood is expected to reach $5.7 trillion by 2020.
The industry also continues to make headlines as it battles global warming, the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a slew of new diseases, including cholera, malaria and yellow fever.
Here’s what you need to know about sustainable fisheries.
Sustainable fisheries can make money On a sustainable fisheries management approach, the catch of the day is the profit, says David Hogg, an executive vice president of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries at the University of Minnesota.
“It’s about having a strong sense of profitability, and being able to see how that is being spent.”
Hogg says that’s what happens when you focus on a sustainable business model, one that relies on local fishermen and uses sustainable techniques, such as using fish that are caught sustainably rather than using commercially produced fish.
Sustainable fishing is not just about catching fish that is caught sustainately.
It’s also about the environmental impact of that catch, and how it can be used in the food chain, says Hogg.
“There’s no question that there are environmental benefits that come from fishing sustainably,” he says.
“And that’s why sustainable fisheries can create economic value.”
Hagg says the primary focus of sustainable fisheries is on reducing waste.
In many parts of the world where fish farming is illegal, fish farmers simply throw the fish overboard.
But if you do your homework, you’ll see that these illegal practices have significant environmental consequences, says Nick Lattin, executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Sea in the Netherlands.
He says it’s time to stop putting the profit above the environment.
“In fact, it is the opposite,” Latten says.
Hogg agrees, saying it’s important to understand that the environmental impacts of fishing, such that the fish that you’re catching have higher levels of mercury, or PCBs, or lead, can be significant.
“The key is that you can use those fish as a feedstock for other fish,” he said.
“So it’s not just fishing in the wrong place, but it’s fishing in a place that is contaminated.”
Lattanin says that in order to understand what happens to the environment in the wild, it helps to understand how fisheries are managed.
For example, a common practice in fisheries is to have a “sustainable zone,” which is a place where fishing is allowed in certain areas and where you can’t catch fish.
Hagg points to a recent study conducted in South Africa, which found that a moratorium on the catch-and-release of fish in South African waters reduced fish catches by nearly 40 percent.
And he says that when you look at how fish farming in some countries is farmed, the sustainability of the practice can be measured by the quality of the fish, not by the number and size of fish caught.
Sustainable fishery practices help protect ocean life The catch of fish can be a crucial resource for ecosystems, says Michael O. Green, a professor of fisheries at Ohio State University who has worked in fisheries management for the past 30 years.
“I think it’s a really important component of sustainable management,” Green says.
The fish are a vital part of the food web and their capture has an environmental impact, he says, because it removes pollutants from the ocean and helps create healthy ecosystems.
“They are very important for our ecosystems because they are key nutrients for all these organisms that are vital to us and also provide our food,” Green said.
Green says sustainable fisheries methods are also effective for controlling diseases like malaria, and preventing diseases like yellow fever and cholerias.
“You don’t need to kill the fish for the fish to die, but you need them to eat,” Green explains.
Sustainable seafood can also help feed the world’s growing population Green, Hogg and Lattine agree that sustainable fisheries will be a key part of global food security.
But Green is not convinced that the future of seafood farming will come from sustainable fishing methods alone.
“We are looking at the oceans and the environment, not just fisheries,” Green tells Newsweek.
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That means we’re losing some of the opportunities that fishing provides.
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