Credit: Jurgen Freund (National Geographic)

Destructive Fishing Practices On Coral Reefs

When it comes to destructive fishing practices, coral reefs can be affected to a great extent because of the devastating effects that these fishing practices can have on the various reef-dwelling animals and the coral reefs themselves. Along with overfishing, destructive fishing is one of the most prevalent reasons for diminishing coral reef populations all around the globe. Since reef fisheries are among the main sources of food in coastal areas everywhere, there are many fisheries that use destructive methods to save time and money, aiming for short-term profit. However, these practices can severely damage coral reef integrity and the coral reef food web in the area, which severely harms the environment, and also leads to rapidly decreasing fish populations.

In terms of understanding destructive fishing practices coral reefs suffer from the most, it’s important to look at the practices themselves and the equipment used in order to make them work. Equipment can include certain types of gill nets and beach seines that not only capture fish, but also damage the surrounding environment, the reefs themselves, and the juveniles that are found closer to the seabed. Cyanide fishing is a particularly destructive method that can not only stun or kill fish, but can also destroy the coral reefs that the cyanide lands on. Finally, dynamite fishing uses explosives to target large numbers of fish. This method is one of the most destructive of all, directly damaging coral structures and often killing off many of the fragile creatures whose presence can make a great deal of difference when it comes to coral reef survival.

In evaluating destructive fishing practices, coral reefs are found to suffer greatly especially because of the physical impact on the reef environment. Dynamite fishing, in particular, can greatly affect the integrity of the calcium carbonate structures built by corals over hundreds of years, leading to the partial or complete destruction of coral reef habitats. Cyanide fishing and other overexploitation practices also have a grave impact on diminishing the number of fish on the reef, and have even contributed to eradicating entire species.

Depending on geographic location, destructive fishing can be more or less prevalent. In Australia, destructive fishing methods are rarely used, and the damage done to coral reefs rarely comes from that particular source. On the other hand, in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, these practices are still not fully under control, and about 60% of the reefs living here are in danger because of destructive fishing. When it comes to destructive fishing practices, coral reefs in Southeast Asia experience a medium-level risk in more than 90% of all cases.

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Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

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