Coral Deforestation through Overfishing
Endearingly known as ‘rainforests of the sea’, coral reefs sustain rare, beautiful, and essential marine life. But this June, the International Institute for Sustainable Development made a grave prediction – that up to 90% of warm-water reefs could be lost by 2050. A major driver of this ongoing destruction? None other than overfishing.
since 1950, around 6 billion tonnes of fish and other aquatic life had been taken from the seas. The Marine Conservation Institute found that globally, 90% of fish have been overfished. These staggering statistics are a testament to the extent of damage caused by unsustainable, unethical fishing for the purposes of fulfilling the demand for seafood.
At the top of the list of common commercial fishing methods is bottom trawling. Dragging weighted nets across the sea floor not only indiscriminately traps marine life, but destroys corals on a tremendous scale. Beyond that, abandoned fishing gear like ropes, nets, and cages have been found to hinder coral growth by breaking, covering, and entangling them. Another incredibly destructive fishing method is fish bombing, which works by stunning and killing marine life while damaging corals, and is practiced as close to home as Sabah.
The consequences of unsustainable fishing practices and losing coral habitats are devastating. For sea life, it means the death of a crucial element of their delicate ecosystem, throwing off the balance of food chains; wrecking habitats; thus, exacerbating the depletion of thousands of precious species. And for us, it means increased risk of coastal disasters, and of course, the loss of some of our planet’s most beautiful natural features.