Reducing Commercial Fishing Effects on Marine Ecosystems through Increased Sustainability

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Commercial Fishing Effects on Marine Ecosystems

Are commercial fishing methods sustainable? The largest obstacles to the sustainability of commercial fishing are overfishing and high levels of bycatch. What steps are commercial fisheries taking to achieve sustainable fishing practices that minimize the effects of fishing on marine ecosystems?
Perhaps the most important aspect of sustainable fishing is the eradication of overfishing. Overfishing occurs when fish are harvested at an unsustainable rate  (Kennedy, 2014). The rate is deemed unsustainable when fish are harvested faster than they are able to reproduce and maintain populations.
Eliminating overfishing is a difficult task with many obstacles to overcome. A large, continuing threat to sustainable fishing is the presence of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing vessels. These vessels are not monitored and the catch data is not reported to local Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). The RFMOs play an essential role in managing and conserving fish stocks within specific jurisdictions  (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2011). These organizations rely on reported catch data from fishing vessels to accurately monitor fish stocks, ensuring that overfished stocks are identified and allowed the necessary time to recover.
Sustainable fishing practices are also put in place to reduce bycatch levels for fishing methods. Bycatch is the untargeted catch of other species of marine life such as turtles and sharks  (Tuna Sustainability, 2010a). Efforts are ongoing to assess commercial fishing methods in order to effectively minimize bycatch levels.

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is working closely with RFMOs to preserve the long-term health of global tuna stocks and marine ecosystems, and reducing bycatch, by focusing on promoting science-based initiatives. The ISSF is a global organization composed of leading scientists, members of the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization. The ISSF also works with the RFMOs to create a powerful alliance which strives to eliminate IUU fishing and its negative effects on sustainable fishing.
One of the most common commercial fishing methods is purse seine fishing. It is a very efficient method of fishing that is made even more effective with the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) (Tuna Sustainability, 2010b). FADs are objects that float on the surface of the water and provide shelter for different species of fish. FADs are effective for attracting free-swimming tuna, which are traditionally difficult to chase in the ocean. The effectiveness of using FADs for purse seine fishing allows vessels to spend less time on the ocean and use less fuel as a result  (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014a). This helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the vessel and its impact on the marine ecosystem. The ISSF has undertaken extensive projects designed to further minimize bycatch levels when using FADs in purse seine fishing  (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014b).

How Clover Leaf Is Improving Commercial Fishing

Clover Leaf is a founding member of the ISSF with a strong and continuing commitment to tuna sustainability. Clover Leaf is dedicated to reducing the effects commercial fishing has on marine ecosystems and raising sustainability standards and fishing practices. This ensures that fish stocks will remain strong and continue to be available for future generations. 

Works Cited

Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2011, September 3). Regional Fisheries Management Organizations. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada:

Kennedy, J. (2014). Overfishing. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from

The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014a). FAQ - Greenpeace says fishing on FADs is destructive. Why does Clover Leaf fish on FADs? Retrieved October 10, 2014, from Clover Leaf Sustainability:

The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014b). FAQ - How much bycatch is caugh using FADs. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from Clover Leaf:

Tuna Sustainability. (2010a, December 23). Glossary: Bycatch. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from YouTube:

Tuna Sustainability. (2010b, December 23). Glossary: FAD. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from YouTube:

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