Sustainable Development Goals: Ending Over Fishing

Sustainable Development Goals: Ending Over Fishing


Overfishing is an epidemic that threatens the marine ecosystem and should be stopped. The practice has led to the extinction of fish species and distorted marine food chain. The research, through a review of the literature, will identify the impact of overfishing, but more importantly, the strategies to bring it to an end. It is evident that governments, management of fishing companies, and public involvement are paramount to ensure marine life sustainability. The research details strategies that would aid meet the 14th United Nations sustainable development goal.



All of the United Nations sustainable development goals (UNSDG) deserve serious scrutiny because they all represent a chance to provide a better future for humanity. Some of the sustainable development goals are aspirational, and some are remedial. The remedial goals aim to fix a problem that is currently being caused by humanity. One such problem is the conservation and sustainability of oceans and marine resources. The SDG states the importance of sustaining aquatic life as it is imperative to human and aquatic life survival. However, overfishing, among other issues facing the marine ecosystem, should be stopped as it has led to the extinction of many fish species, and contributed to the imbalance of the food chain. A global effort requires the participation of the majority of the planet’s population to safeguard the aquatic environment by regulating overfishing and reversing the situation.

Overfishing is a global problem that threatens the aquatic ecosystem. According to the United Nations, subsidies for fishing have contributed to the depletion of many fish species (n.d). Equally, it is difficult to save and restore fisheries because the profit from fishing has increased to $50 billion after government subsidies. Worse still, the demand for proteins, currently at more than 3 billion people, has raised the supply pressure, resulting in overfishing. Consequently, there has been an extinction of fish species, with the fear that the damage is irreversible. Furthermore, the marine food chain been destroyed, as particular species exponentially grow, affecting the composition of marine life. In view of these problems, it is imperative to find solutions to the global epidemic of fish to meet the 14th SDG. Overfishing is a global challenge that has permanent implications on human and aquatic lives.

Understanding the issue of overfishing is imperative to not only curtailing the activity but also healing and restoring balance in the marine ecosystem. Taming overfishing will protect fish species from being extinct. Additionally, it will restore balance in the marine ecosystem. By stopping overfishing, there is hope of endangered fish increasing their number to healthy levels for the good of marine and human lives. Ending overfishing is essential in saving aquatic life.

Currently, most research focuses on the damage of overfishing to the ecosystem and not how to stop the practice or restoration efforts. Forthwith, the study will unearth what ways the global community can begin to repair the ocean areas that have been permanently affected by overfishing. This will bridge the gap between the current effort that is being launched to fight overfishing and the need to repair the areas that have already been negatively affected by this practice. The research seeks solutions to overfishing, which current research and literature do not have.

Research Question: What can be done to end overfishing and restore marine life to ensure compliance with the 14th UN sustainable development goal that promotes the conservation of aquatic resources?



Analysis of the existing data will be done to complete the research. These articles will provide the necessary information necessary to complete the research assignment into this sustainable development goal. Research into scholarly articles on overfishing may reveal ongoing efforts to repair the damage done by overfishing. Furthermore, it may be useful to research current popular scientific periodicals to see if there are any current trends that the academic papers may not have caught up with yet. The methodology entails analysis of existing work on the topic.

Literature Review

A literature review revealed that overfishing can be simply defined as when the mortality rates of fish, either due to fishing or environmental factors, rises above their replacement rate (Allen et al. 2013, 247). Studies reveal that the current demands of seafood are increasing despite the fact that many species of fish are currently being overfished (Zhou et al. 2015, 716). Essentially human appetites have not caught up with the fact that overfishing could possibly diminish the supply of seafood to the point where it would go from being a staple item in the average person’s diet to a luxury good that only the rich could afford. Furthermore, the literature reveals that overfishing is not only dangerous because it will reduce the food supply for humanity; it is dangerous because it is permanently changing the ecosystems in the world’s oceans. These changes, if not stopped, could become irreversible.

One of the significant changes to the ecosystems of the world’s oceans that can directly be traced to overfishing is the explosion in the jellyfish populations in specific ecosystems. It was noted off the coast of Namibia that the jellyfish population had suddenly surged for unknown reasons (Roux et al. 2013, 249). It was soon discovered that the reason that the jellyfish population had so suddenly risen was that pelagic fishes that were common to the region had been overfished (Roux et al. 2013, 249). Sadly, the removal of the pelagic fishes from the Namibian coast is likely irreversible, but it did provide scientists with a valuable lesson regarding the unforeseen consequences of overfishing (Roux et al. 2013, 251). Quite merely, removing an organism from an eco-system not only means that the organism is no longer available for human consumption, but it also means that the food chain in the ecosystem will be irreversibly changed. In the case of Namibia, the removal of the pelagic fishes meant that the predatory jellyfish were able to take over the ecosystem, which is an unfavorable result for the local population that relies on the ecosystem for survival.

There are other unforeseen changes to ecosystems as a result of overfishing. In Sweden, the seagrass off of the west coast has greatly diminished as a result of algae being able to grow in the absence of the cod population that had been overfished in the second half of the twentieth century (Baden et al. 2012, 61). Much like the pelagic fish off the coast of Namibia, the cod off the coast of Sweden have been fished to the point where the changes to the ecosystem are likely irreversible. When overfishing destroys seagrass, then the lifeforms that need the seagrass to survive will also be put in danger and on the path to extinction.

Overfishing diminishes the fish stock, an indication of overexploitation. The rapid decline of fish numbers or species for human consumption attests to overexploitation. In western countries like the USA and Britain, the demand for fish has increased because people are more aware of their nutritional value. In the USA, federal fisheries still suffer from overfishing despite legislation. The West coast is deprived of popular groundfish species like cod and Pollock due to little government intervention (Melnychuk Banobi, Hilborn, 2013). The country is compared to Alaska, which after outlawing foreign companies from fishing on their ground, has never experienced overfishing. In view of overfishing harms, the US government even had a ten-year rebuilding program to ensure that traders adhere to the prescribed limit of a fishing limit set by the government (Patrick & Cope, 2014). However, the program was under threat because over-fishing was still a problem for the government. The plan was also criticized by opponents who stated that the time frame was too short and the rules too stringent to adhere to. However, alternatives like harvest control rules, when the fish stock declines; buy plan programs, and effective management of the fisheries had the potential to stop overfishing.


The review has revealed several ways of stopping overfishing. Firstly, the policy has an impact on stopping the practice. Policies like Alaska’s ban on foreign companies can protect fish. Making the laws is also as vital as enforcing them. This means that enforcement is a significant area that will need improvement if overfishing is to be adequately combatted. Among these methods the imposition of length limits and equipment limits in certain fisheries to help keep populations healthy. Another suggested strategy is to introduce alien fish species into areas that are on the verge of being overfished to tip the balance back in favor of the population that is being destroyed (Mollmann & Diekmann, 2012, 304). In addition, more simple conservation methods have been proven to stem the tide of overfishing when they are correctly implemented (Davies & Baum, 2012, 1). For instance, teaching the community about overfishing has a long-term positive effect. The values will be passed down to younger generations, who will refrain from overfishing for years to come. Involving the managers of fishing firms is also useful in curbing the practice. The government should liaise with the leaders to ensure compliance with regulations. The companies will also be more cooperative when they are involved in policy making and are offered incentives. Stopping overfishing and restoring the ecosystem hinge on policies, proper management, introducing new fish populations, and communal involvement.


The study aimed at finding ways to stop overfishing to preserve the marine ecosystem in compliance with the UN development goals. Forthwith, the research found that policies could end overfishing. Equally, involving managers in the fishing industry increased the incentive to comply with regulations. Introducing fish species where there are declining numbers also rejuvenates the population. Correspondingly, future research should focus on what would be done at a global level concerning overfishing. The research should explore ways that governments can cooperate to heal the ocean ecosystem, and how to go about it.



Allen, Mike, Et al. “Dynamic angling effort influences the value of minimum‐length limits to prevent recruitment overfishing.” Fisheries Management and Ecology vol. 20, no. 2-3, (2013): 247-257.

Baden, Susanne, Et al. “Shift in seagrass food web structure over decades is linked to overfishing.” Marine Ecology Progress Series vol. 451, (2012): 61-73.

Davies, Trevor & Baum, Julia. “Extinction Risk and Overfishing: Reconciling Conservation and Fisheries Perspectives on the Status of Marine Fishes.” Scientific Reports vol. 2, no. 561, (2012):1-9.

Melnychuk Michael, Banobi, Janette, and Hilborn Ray. “Effects of Management Tactics on Meeting Conservation Objectives for Western North American Groundfish Fisheries.” PLoS ONE vol. 8, no. 2 (2013), e56684.

Mollmann, Christian & Diekmann, Rabea. “Marine Ecosystem Regime Shifts Induced by Climate and Overfishing: A Review for the Northern Hemisphere.” Advances in Ecological Research vol. 47, (2012):304-347.

Patrick Wesley and Cope Jason. “Examining the 10-Year Rebuilding Dilemma for U.S. Fish Stocks.” PLoS ONE vol. 9, no. 11, (2014), e112232.

Rinkesh. “What is Overfishing?” 2019, Conserve Energy Future,

Roux, Jean-Paul, Et al. “Jellyfication of marine ecosystems as a likely consequence of overfishing small Pelagic fishes: lessons from the Benguela.” Bulletin of Marine Science vol. 89, no. 1 (2013): 249-284.

United Nations. “Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.” n.d., UN Sustainable Development Goals,

Zhou, Shiji, Et al. “Ending overfishing while catching more fish” Fish and Fisheries vol, 16, (2015): 716-722.