Fishing or ‘angling’ is the sport or business of catching fish, usually with rods, lines, or nets. It had been practiced for thousands of years, dating back as much as 2000 BCE. It originated as a means of food for survival and turned into a commercial activity in antiquity. Today, the global fishing industry is worth billions of dollars. An estimated 520 million people’s livelihoods rely on fishing and fishing activities, and for about 2.6 billion people around the world, fish is an essential part of their diet.
FORMS OF FISHING
There are three major forms of fishing, either commercial or non-commercial. They are:
i. Commercial fishing
Commercial fishing refers to any fishing activities that are done for commercial profit, mostly from wild fisheries. This type of fishing is done in all kinds of water globally. Over 80% of the fish caught for commercial fishing are caught by nets. There are different fishing methods using net-like purse seining, trawling, gillnet, bottom trawl, and midwater trawl. Other methods for commercial fishing include diving, harvesting shellfish, and fishing with line.
ii. Industrial fishing
Commercial fishing carried out on a large scale is referred to as industrial fishing. Unlike commercial fishing, this form of fishing uses big boats worth a couple of millions of dollars, equipped with modern and efficient technology.
iii. Recreational fishing
Recreational fishing is the activity of catching fish for sport, pleasure, or non-commercial purposes. These are generally not sold or exported anywhere. It is estimated that the global number of recreational fishers ranges from a minimum of 220 million to a maximum of 700 million. The popularity of recreational fishing is increasing on a grand scale worldwide.
In 2020, fish provided 20% of the average per capita intake of animal protein for 3.3 billion people! This multi-national and multi-billion market is vital for global food security and nutrition strategies and has a huge role in eliminating malnutrition and hunger worldwide. Let’s dive deeper and look into some interesting facts about fishing:
1. THE EARLIEST FISHING TOOLS WERE MADE OF WOOD, BONE, OR STONES
Before the advent of fish equipment, people used their bare hands to fish from water bodies. However, this limited them to catch only the slow-paced species. So, people came up with more efficient methods. The first fishing tool made was a gorge, a piece of wood, stone, or bone with two pointed ends and is secured- off-centered to the line. The gorge contained a bait that lured the fish into the trap. When the fish swallowed the gorge, it could not escape.
Over the years, people came up with various methods to catch fishes, depending on the species and their types. Ranging from small-scale gear such as spear guns, small nets, and traps operated by hands to modern technologies that can track fishes deep below the sea’s surface.
2. FISHERMEN ARE ALSO CALLED ‘ANGLER’
Originally, Angler was the last name, but around 1500, it came to mean fisherman. Back in the 1400s, hooks were called anglers. Since fishers went fishing with hook and line, they were given the name ‘angler.’ But not all people who go fishing are called anglers. You are only called, so if you go fishing with a fishing line that has a hook at the end. The anglers often use a metal rod and let the fish escape once they catch it.
3. THERE ARE OVER 33,000 FISH SPECIES IN THE WORLD
One of the amazing facts about fishing is the number of species. According to worldatlas.com, there are about 33,600 fish species in the world and over 3,500,000 fishes in the world. Approximately 70% of the world’s species live in the largest ocean of the world, the Pacific Ocean.
You might be wondering how scientists can count the number of species and the number of fishes? They have various methods for quantifying fish populations, such as tracking and monitoring their trends. Plus, with the help of the latest technologies like new artificial intelligence, GPS, drones, and autonomous sonar, the process is not as complex as it sounds.
However, this is still just an estimated number. According to nationalgeographic.com, about 80% of the ocean is still unexplored, unmapped, and has not even been seen by humans. The ocean is still a mystery to us. In fact, a greater percentage of the surfaces of the moon and planet Mars have been studied than our ocean floor has.
4. ILLEGAL FISHING COSTS LOSS OF $30 BILLION EACH YEAR
It is estimated that illegal fishing costs up to $36.4 billion each year. According to animalequality.org, up to one in five internationally traded fishes come from illegal fishing. While many species are already the victim of illegal trade, numerous protected species are also accidentally caught in fishing gear and end up on our plates. About 20% of fish we consume is said to be illegally traded.
To ensure enforcement of stricter monitoring rules and combat illegal trading of fish, there are numerous organizations. For instance, World Wild Fund (WWF) is a leading organization that works through TRAFFIC to combat these issues. They have numerous programs, such as the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, that address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing products.
But the global supply chain is rather weakly regulated and complex. Due to its concealed nature, the trading of illegal products is still practiced. Some of the marine animals suffering from this are Sea Turtles, Sharks, Vaquita, Whales, and Bluefin tuna.
5. FISHING POLLUTES THE OCEAN
The fishing industry has been using more and more plastics for manufacturing fishing gears in recent years. Most of these fishing nets, lines, and gears are discarded in the ocean, either accidentally or purposefully. These discarded gears, or ‘ghost gears,’ leave a bulk of debris that pollutes the ocean.
According to a report by Greenpeace, ghost gears make up to 10% of the plastic waste in the ocean. In fact, roughly 640,000 tonnes of ghost gears enter the ocean yearly. These discarded gears make up to 85% of rubbish on the ocean ridges and seafloor in some specific areas.
There are many reasons why these fishing gears are left abandoned, but these ghost gear’s problems stem up particularly due to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and overcrowded fisheries. These facts about fishing explain how the ocean is being polluted in the name of rescue and factory.
6. CHINA IS THE WORLD’S LARGEST FISH PRODUCER
Out of the total global fish production of 178.8 million tons, one-third of the fish production is from China. China has been the world’s top fish production for a couple of years. Thanks to their modern, efficient technologies and constant support from the government.
The second-largest fish producer country in the world is India, with about 6% of the total global production, followed by Indonesia, Peru, and the US. These facts about fishing show the most populated countries in the world are the largest producer of fish.
7. THERE’S A POSSIBILITY OF FISHLEES OCEAN BY 2048
According to research conducted by scientists and economists, there’s a high possibility of a fishless ocean by 2048. The main reason behind this brink of extinction of marine species is overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat loss. Various fishing methods such as longline fishing and bottom trawling are also major contributors to this issue.
The consequences of our actions are already being seen today. For instance, the population of sharks has almost been reduced to 60% lower. Since sharks act as a scavenger that keeps the ocean healthier and cleaner, the decline in their population means a rapid spike in the population of tiny fishes. In the long run, this will bring imbalance in the delicate marine ecosystem. One of the awful facts about fishing is expected extinction by 2048.
These facts about fishing explain how unresponsibly we are hampering the marine ecosystem. Rather than knowing more about fishes, we discussed how fishing is commercialized and the impacts.(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)