Commercial fishing brings problems from world’s oceans to dry land

The International Marine Mammal Project and Marine Stewardship Council coined the Dolphin Safe Label act in 1990 thus producing a label of guaranteed cooperation and oversight of the world’s commercial fishing industry and market for protection of oceanic marine life.   

The Dolphin Safe Label act is most commonly found on canned tuna and commercial fishing products. Offering options had made consumers more aware of threats posed on mammals in the ocean. Animals vital to the oceans health have a larger impact on the worlds heath than recently noticed. 

The Netflix documentary: “Seaspiracy” by Ali Tabrizi addressed the importance of oceanic mammals. 

“Phytoplankton in oceans, every year, absorb four times the amount of carbon than the Amazon Rainforest does, and generates up to 85 percent of the oxygen we breath.”

Dolphins and whales have helped aid ocean photosynthesis for Earth’s carbon exchange. As the marine mammals surface for air, their feces fertilize phytoplankton on the oceans surface. Micro-organic plants have produced and intake carbon and oxygen from the oceans through the process of photosynthesis. Importance of oceanic mammals on Earth’s carbon exchange is rebuked by the commercial fishing industry.  

Gabriella Nowodworski, Black Hills State Univeristy student and avid fish consumer states her preference about dolphin safe labels. “Whenever I’m out shopping for tuna, I always make sure to buy the cans with dolphin safe labels.”

International Marine Mammal Project exonerated the use of dolphin safe labels for any tuna caught with the permissible act of chasing, netting, or killing of dolphins. Marine Stewardship Council confirmed the validity of labels on commercial fishing boats by written statements from the captain’s of the vessel. Assurance of dolphin safe labels is kept through word of mouth by the vessel’s captain. Baseless reports by word of mouth have created deceitful labels sought out by consumers. For 30 years, over 10,000 dolphins have been killed each year off the French-Coast as a product of bycatch. Bycatch refers to fish or animals caught by fishermen that are unwanted or illegal to catch. Ocenana has estimated 40 percent of all marine life caught is marked as bycatch. Marked as discarded waste, these animals typically end up dead before they are back in the water.     

Ali Tabrizi sits down with International Marine Mammal Project Associate Director Mark J. Palmer about the seriousness of fishing bycatch and the verification process of the Marine Stewardship Council label. Palmer is asked if he can guarantee the use of safety labels on tuna cans.

In reply, “Nope,  nobody can. Once you’re out there how do we know what they’re doing?”

Difficulties to prove dolphin safe fishing have lead to Marine Stewardship Council corespondents on commercial fishing boats to turn up missing or dead on international waters. Sea Shepard is a volunteer lead group fighting to bring commercial fishing culprits to justice. They have sunk and rammed just under 20 illegal commercial fishing vessels without harm. Sea Shepard has claimed finds of tuna vessels who slaughtered 45 dolphins in the process of catching eight tuna fish. Captains and crews are left to take care of the problem they have created. Vigilantes of Sea Shepard have decided to take matters into their own hands. 

Overfishing has effected Overfishing has effected the quality and quantity of marine life in Earth’s oceans today. 2.7 trillion fish are caught commercially every year according to Forbes. Past research has showed fishermen catching one to two tons of fish per day. Today, fleets catch one to two ton of fish per year. Fish populations have recently seen an unprecedented decline to extinction. A Stanford study claimed the Earth’s oceans will be ‘virtually’ empty by 2048 due to the overfishing epidemic. Overfishing has harmed the food chain within the ocean. Larger animals like dolphins and sharks have faced the repercussions in a lack of food. 

Solutions to overfished oceans are found in fish farms. Local Spearfish Trout Farm buys trout eggs to farm, raise, and later sell to any wanted consumer. Fish farms could be a viable solution to problems presented from overfishing. Local fish farms have planned to take the stress off of fish populations by producing farmed fish in a sustainable environment. The trout farm in Spearfish claims to use Ziegler fish feed. Ziegler and other fish feed producer’s main ingredients are fish oil and fish meal, which originated from live fish. The use of fish to make fish food has not created a solution to overfishing, but contradicts the purpose of fish farms. 

Commercial fishing industries have fooled the eyes of consumers. Dolphin Safe Labels produced by International Marine Mammal Project and Marine Stewardship Council are proven to be consequentially unverified by supposed trustworthy labels. Irreversible damage has been done to the world’s marine life and continues to happen daily. Fishing industries thrive on massive endangerment to the world’s health without any cooperate repercussions.  

Individuals have yet to come up with a viable solution to helping save the world’s ocean and marine life. Promising opportunities are presented among local fish farms to lower the demand of commercial fishing at large, but have not reached their potential. A feasible solution to ocean’s problems is to inhibit the consumption of seafood all together. Putting a crippling crutch on the commercial fishing industry and allowing for Earth’s oceans to heal may be the only option.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash