Fishing is a profitable endeavor and, for many communities, an ancient cultural and survival practice. But overfishing—when species are taken from the sea at rates that are too high for the fish to replace what is lost through natural reproductive cycles — has serious consequences, not only for the health of ocean ecosystems but also for the social and economic well-being of coastal communities.
Technologies such as sonar and diesel engines, fishing subsidies offered by national governments, and international efforts to increase fish catch, have led to significant growth in fishing capacity. And as a result, many of the world’s fisheries today are overfished. Commercial fleets around the world face the depletion of fish populations and often must travel farther in the ocean or into deeper waters. Science is critical to developing effective strategies for reducing overfishing throughout the world, which can inform future fisheries policy.