In 2012, the United States became the first country to impose nationwide catch limits for 528 federally managed species of protected fish with the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This legislation came on the heels of several other conservation measures, all addressing the problem that has been looming over lawmakers shoulders – there may not be that many more fish in the sea.
After WWI the world began to launch large-scale fishing operations with the belief that our oceans’ resources were infinite – which of course was a woefully incorrect assumption. The widespread practice of irresponsible fishing techniques like bottom trawling and the use of purse-seine nets have had devastating effects on marine populations.
A recent study released by United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization warns that 80 percent of fish populations are “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.” The situation is even worse for large predatory fish and 90 percent of these species have seen a steep decline since the 1950s. Scientists now estimate that if we continue consuming fish at the current rate, our oceans could be empty by the year 2048.
Ocean ecosystems are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s oxygen production and contain 30 percent of the carbon dioxide on the planet – ocean ecosystems cannot exist without the fish that live in them. This is why it is crucial that we maintain the protections we have in place for our dwindling fish populations – and the Magnuson-Stevens act is the cornerstone upon which many other conservation policies have been built.
Despite the fact that this law has successfully grown sustainable economies, brought back two-thirds of the overfished populations from the brink of collapse, and greatly reduced bycatch, the Republican controlled congress has its sights set on this seminal legislation. But you can help to keep these protections in place by signing this petition letting our government know that we will not stand for a Congress that allows our oceans and waterways to be pillaged and destroyed. Our oceans are precious and they need more legal protections not less which is why we need to keep the Magnuson-Stevens Act intact.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons