The Over Fishing and Mistreatment of the Big Fish Population

March 8, 2012
Many people go to marine worlds and zoos to observe whales, dolphins, and sharks but what people don’t know is that there may not be those popular attractions if there isn’t a regulation on the fishing of these animals. Humans kill over 100 million sharks every year and the whale population has gone from the millions to the thousands since the start of the whaling industry. Overfishing and the mistreatment of whales, dolphins, and sharks is hurting the marine ecosystem, it is unnecessary, and it is unethical.

In 1946, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was created to regulate the whaling industry. This commission puts restrictions on what fisherman can and can’t do, but nations such as the Danish Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Japan, and Norway are still whaling illegally. Many whaling fleets go under the title “scientific whaling” and propose their plan for whaling to the IWC. Many times, they are rejected but they carry out their plans anyway. In the past 25 years alone, Japan and Norway have killed more than 25,000 whales. Japan is starting to introduce whale meat into their school systems and markets and scientists say that if whalers kill the number of humpback whales they intended, that population would go locally extinct. There are other options for meat other than the species that are starting to become endangered and extinct. There needs to be stronger whaling regulations to preserve the biggest mammal population on the planet.

Along with the defiance of the laws and regulations on whaling, the methods of killing the whales are inhumane. Most whalers will start the hunt by chasing and tiring out the whales for hours before they shoot them with a harpoon. These harpoons usually have a grenade at the tip that will explode, causing the whale internal trauma and extreme pain. Many whalers will make the explosion less severe to help preserve the whale flesh, but this causes the whale suffering that lasts longer. More than 80% of whales are not killed instantly once harpooned, and they may even continue to suffer for 10 to 35 minutes. The suffering of the whales may have had purposes earlier on, such as for making corsets with their bones, making soaps and skin care products with their oils, and using their oils for lamps before the use of kerosene, but the inhumane killing of whales today is something that should be avoided in this modern era where there are other ways to make skin care products and provide meat.

Dolphins don’t have a big organization like the International Whaling Commission to regulate the killings. There are either no regulations, or the regulations aren’t strong enough to be followed. In some areas, regular fishing methods are trapping dolphins such as with the use of fishing nets. Boat traffic is harming dolphins as well. In other areas such as Taija, Japan, families of dolphins are being herded into shallow coves where they are stabbed and drown. This practice wasn’t known until about 2003 when the Sea Shepherd was able to get photographs and videos of the slaughter and release them globally. There is also the mass slaughter of dolphins in the Faeroe Islands that is similar to those in Taija, Japan except for the fact that there are many more coves around the Faeroe Islands that the slaughter takes place and it is harder to stop.

There is really no purpose for the slaughter of dolphins. The main reason for killing dolphins is for meat, but dolphin meat has been shown to contain high amounts of mercury that is bad for the health of the consumer. Fishermen have also admitted that they kill dolphins as a type of “pest control” so that the fish they eat can be used for humans. The way in which the dolphins are slaughtered is very inhumane. They will send out boats in the early morning to herd the dolphins into a cove with underwater sound and then trap them in the cove with the use of nets. Usually the slaughter doesn’t take place until the next morning so the dolphins are left in confusion and distress throughout the night. Some people say that the slaughter is done early in the morning because the cove area will turn blood red and there needs to be time for it to wash away so that the tourists and people that go to the cove are unaware that a dolphin slaughter had taken place.

Most people probably think that sharks are harmful fish that should be killed for the safety of humans and other species, but sharks are necessary to the health of the marine ecosystem and fishing for sharks needs to be regulated just as much as the fishing for whales and dolphins. About 90% of the shark population has already been depleted and they are unable to reproduce fast enough for them to make up the loss in population size. Usually it takes about fifteen years for a shark to mature and be able to have just a single shark pup. Sharks are scavengers and predators and they are necessary to keep the ocean cleaner and to help control fish populations that would otherwise get out of hand.

Many of the ways that sharks are killed is very cruel and it harms other species as well. One method of fishing for sharks is longlining, which is with the use of a string that can be as long as 62 miles. These lines are usually bated with illegally killed dolphins. They have also killed many birds because the birds can get caught by these lines and drown. Sea turtles are also commonly caught in these lines. A more inhumane way of killing sharks is by hauling them onto the boat where their fins will then be sliced off and then the sharks are tossed back into the ocean, still alive, and unable to swim, so they sink to the bottom where they can be eaten alive by other fish. This method is called shark finning. Sharks are mainly killed for their fins, which only amount to about 4% of their body mass, meaning that 200,000 tons of shark are not used and are thrown back into the ocean. Sharks are also killed for their oils, cartilage, and teeth which are used for skin care products that are unnecessary, medicines that aren’t proven to heal anything, and souvenirs that are make endangering the shark population pointless.

People need to become aware of the over fishing and mistreatment of some of the largest and most beautiful creatures on the earth. Once they are gone, there is no way to replenish the population. Without these big ocean creatures, the marine ecosystem would be unbalanced. Most of the small things that whales, dolphins, and sharks are used for are unnecessary and not worth the inhumane slaughters. Taking action against these horrendous acts will help preserve the largest portion of the planet… the ocean.





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