For some time now, we have heard arguments against fish conservation efforts from animal rights groups about how fish are not as intelligent as many animals and do not feel pain. These claims are false.
Fish are more intelligent than once thought; they can navigate their environment, recognize members of their species, and use tools (such as rocks or algae-covered logs). Fish also exhibit complex social behaviors such as cooperation in hunting for food and forming hierarchies within schools.
Why Fish Conservation is Important
In the past, anglers have been known to over-fish for certain fish species to meet demand. This has led to the depletion of many fish populations and decreased consumer choice. Increased regulation from governing bodies is occurring, hopefully allowing for the restoration of depleted stocks.
During the last few decades, human activities put the world’s wild creatures on the brink of crisis. Unfortunately, the world has lost over 50% of vertebrate wildlife in the last 40 years.
Illegal hunting, agriculture expansion, wildfires, and logging severely threatened the natural ecosystem. All these factors pushed several species on the verge of extinction.
There are also some conservation efforts that you can take into your own hands on your next fishing trip, such as releasing undersized or unwanted catches back into the water where they belong instead of killing them and throwing them away on land.
Fisheries managers recommend limiting harvest size by using circle hooks, keeping lines taut, and avoiding too much handling time while removing hooks from caught fish (Environmental Defense Fund).
Countries worldwide are implementing strict rules to safeguard endangered species. In this situation, wildlife conservation is mandatory to preserve these declining species. Especially, laws and regulations are critical to restrain human activities, contributing to animal endangerment.
Forage Fish Conservation Act
US Sen. Richard Blumenthal also introduced a bill named Forage Fish Conservation Act to protect forage fish in America. On December 17, 2020, the law was proposed to highlight the starring role of forage fish in the marine ecosystem.
According to Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president for conservation policy, the Act will help manage the forage fish population for the next 40 years. Forage Fish are small migratory schooling fish, forming the base of the ocean food web. They feed on small plants and animals and, in turn, serve as a food source for larger fish, sea birds, and sea mammals.
However, in the recent few decades, overfishing wiped out over one-third of forage fish across the globe. Humans do not directly consume these forage fish. Instead, they are used to manufacture poultry feed, fertilizers, and dietary supplements.
The Future Of Fish
If the Act gets ratification from the House, it will amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which executes fish management in federal waters. The law was introduced after last month, Long Island Sound fish was in the news.
These fish suffered extreme declination along Connecticut’s shoreline because they could not migrate due to warm temperatures. The delay resulted in their deaths due to the scarcity of food sources.
Considering the Fish Conservation Act’s significance, different organizations and institutions also pledged to endorse the law. A union of The Maritime Aquarium, Audubon Connecticut, Mystic Aquarium, and the Long Island Soundkeeper decided to support Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Wildlife is a precious gift from God; the responsibility falls on our shoulders to safeguard extinct species. Forage Fish Conservation Act is a good initiative by Sen. Richard to save marine threatened species.
A recent study from the University of British Columbia found that, in some areas, up to 90% of fish populations are being fished at unsustainable levels. And as we know, overfishing depletes stocks and leads to ecosystem degradation. But what can you do?
There is a lot you can do! I am here with some easy ways for anyone to get involved with fishery conservation efforts.
1) Join an advocacy group like Oceana or Pew Charitable Trusts
2) Write a letter to your representative about this issue
3) Support sustainable seafood restaurants and retailers
4) Advocate for better labeling
5) Contact your favorite fishing gear company
6) Consider adopting from one of the many aquariums or zoos