Happy World Fisheries Day! Today we celebrate the fish and fishermen who are vital to a healthy ocean and thriving coastal economies. Whether we live near the water or not, we all depend on healthy fish populations for a healthy ocean and economy.
Fish are truly amazing – coming in all different shapes and sizes and living in nearly every corner of the ocean.
In honor of World Fisheries Day, we’re paying tribute to our gilled friends of the sea. Here are five fin-tastic ways that we all depend on healthy fish populations:
1) Healthy fish create a healthy environment.
We all know that little fish are eaten by big fish, and big fish are eaten by bigger fish—all the way up the food chain. But fish can serve other roles in their environment, too. In some instances, fish literally shape the environment around them. Fish contribute nutrients to their local ecosystems—helping algae and seagrasses to grow and become abundant for all ocean critters to feast upon.
2) Healthy fish support a strong economy.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2013 report on the status of Fisheries of the United States, 11 million anglers took 71 million recreational fishing trips and commercial fishermen brought in a total of $5.5 billion in revenue to the United States!
3) Healthy fish feed hungry people.
Do you enjoy a good sushi dinner? So do lots of other people. The United States is the world’s third largest consumer of seafood after China and Japan. With such a taste for seafood, it’s important that we carefully manage our fisheries so future generations can enjoy it too!
4) Healthy fish attract sightseers.
Fishing is isn’t the only industry contributing to a healthy economy. Scuba divers, snorkelers and other recreationists bring in lots of money to coastal communities’ tourism industries.
5) Healthy fish make healthy people.
Believe it or not, fish are an important part of our medical industry. While 77% of fish caught in the commercial sector was used for human consumption, fish are used for more than just food. An ocean commission report lists chemicals and biological materials from marine organisms now in use or development, including 10 anti-cancer drugs, drugs to fight inflammation, fungus, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and dengue.
Ocean Conservancy has worked for more than 22 years to support sustainable U.S. fisheries. Thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the United States has made great strides in rebuilding domestic stocks and ending overfishing in U.S. waters.