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overfishing facts for kids

10 Overfishing Facts for Kids

July 22, 2022 - Martina Igini

Overfishing refers to a situation when fish are caught faster than their stocks can be replenished,  resulting in the species becoming increasingly underpopulated in that area. Not only does this pose a huge threat to marine biodiversity and marine food supply but it also affects many people directly – especially communities who rely on fishing to make a living or as their main source of food. Here are 10 overfishing facts for kids to better understand why this is considered one of the biggest environmental issues of our lifetime.

10 Overfishing Facts for Kids

1. Over the past 40 years, marine species have seen a decrease of 39%.

2. From sharks and rays to reptiles, just under 3,000 marine species globally are listed as endangered or threatened by overfishing and climate change.

3. Illegal and unregulated fishing –  a broad term that captures a wide variety of fishing activities that are not reported or are misreported to relevant authorities in violation of national and international laws – represents 12-28% of fishing worldwide, equivalent to around 11-26 million tonnes of fish. 

4. Researchers found that Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are sometimes related to more serious problems like human trafficking and slavery at sea. 

5. Another huge problem related to overfishing is bycatch, which occurs when large amounts of unwanted sea animals are captured during the fishing for a particular species and then are discarded as waste, causing the unnecessary loss of billions of fish and sea creatures. About 38.5 million tonnes of bycatch results from the practice every year.

6. One of the most highly-caught fish is tuna, which reached its highest levels in 2018 with over 7.9 million tonnes. 

7. Nowadays, people consume more than twice as much seafood as they did 50 years ago, with per capita aquatic food consumption growing from an average 9.9 kilogrammes to a staggering 20.2 kilogrammes in 2020.

8. Today, less than 65% of stocks are considered to be fished within biologically sustainable levels, with the remaining part being classified as “overfished”.

9. The world’s largest fish producer and exporter is China while the European Union is the world’s largest importer of fish and fish products. 

10. As part of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 14 is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources. The United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are working towards maintaining the proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels. 

If you liked these 10 overfishing facts for kids, make sure to check this out next: 7 Facts About Ocean Plastic Pollution for Kids

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is an environmental journalist based in Hong Kong. She holds two Bachelor's degrees, one in Journalism and one in Translation and Interpreting Studies as well as a Master's degree in International Development. Passionate about writing and languages, her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection, especially in developing countries. She has extensive experience working as a journalist and in 2020, she joined the outreach team of the United Nations Global Communication Department. She currently works for Earth.Org and is the website's main writer and editor.