Humans have hunted species to extinction numerous times in the past – from the Dodo bird, to the Tasmanian tiger, to the Falkland Island wolf. Even when their meat isn’t a necessity to survive, we persist in overhunting species until there are literally none of them left. This is not an issue of the past; even with agencies tasked with protecting endangered species, humanity still manages to aggressively over hunt many species, even in the United States. One recent example of this is the organized wolf hunt in Wisconsin. Even though there are only approximately 800 wolves living in Wisconsin, the state is allowing people to hunt the endangered animal, giving out 1,160 permits to kill the 800 animals.
Despite the occasional issue, America has become a relatively secure nation for endangered animals. Some species located in other parts of the world have been less fortuitous. Many species have become extinct in third world countries, where there are no laws protecting endangered species. About a third of all animals that are endangered today are threatened by over hunting.
Our problem with over hunting also extends to the oceans. Oceans contain a tremendous amount of biodiversity, but human activity is having serious and lasting impacts upon it. Nearly 80% of all of the world’s fisheries are either “over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.” Overfishing has had serious impacts upon many species’ populations, nearly wiping out all whales, cod, herring, and sardine by the mid-1900s. Overfishing has become progressively worse over the years. Fishing vessels are forced to go farther and farther from the coast to make their catch. One recent study found that if fishing rates continue at their current pace, all of the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.
The tip of the week this week addresses one of the concerns of this week’s blog. To help solve to problem of overfishing, the American consumer must begin to take action. I love fish, but I know that to help solve this problem, we must all make healthy and sustainable choices when we go out to eat. If you are interested in finding out which seafood choices are sustainable and which are not, check out this site.