Whilst the Amazon is widely known as the ‘lungs’ of the Earth, the lesser known fact is that our oceans store much more carbon in their seabeds. As we all know, the Earth is covered by oceans. In fact, 71% of the Earth’s surface is ocean. According to the Marine Conservation Society, ‘marine protected areas’ of the UK store roughly 26.5 million tonnes of carbon. Just around this small island, we store that much carbon!
However, industrial fishing practices, such as bottom trawling, disturb the carbon that is stored in the seabed sediment (sand and mud). Bottom trawling is the use of heavy weighted nets that drag along the ocean floor, catching whatever lies in its wake. Naturally, it hugely disturbs the seabed and the ocean life that resides within it. The carbon causes the sea to become acidic, contributing to the decay of the coral reefs (the nurseries of all marine life), which destroys the delicate ecosystems which keep our oceans alive. This contributes to the warming of the seas, which is famously killing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Bottom trawling is a cruel and indiscriminate form of fishing, solely supported by the industrial fishing sector. It callously disturbs all the life on the seabed, unnecessarily killing so much of UK marine life. According to the Marine Conservation Society, it is taking place in 98% of the UK’s marine ‘protected’ areas.
However, the good news is, there is an overwhelming majority in support of terminating this practice. Greenpeace commissioned YouGov for a polling study into the support of bottom trawling in the UK – it found that 71% of adults believe that bottom trawling should not be taking place. In fact, even our representatives are taking steps in support of banning this practice. In four ‘marine protected areas’ around the UK, the government has taken steps to ban bottom trawling through banning the use of trawling equipment in those areas. There are talks of extending restrictions to at least another 40 areas. However, activists say that this falls short of what is needed. Considering a large majority of the British public support an overt ban, we should take the steps to make sure this happens.
So in Britain we have started to consider the impact of industrial fishing, but what about your home country? Is this something that happens in your waters? If you live in a coastal nation, like the UK, do you really want your oceans to be destroyed for the sake of industrial fishing?
What can we do? Collectively, if we petition our representatives regarding bottom trawling, something that is already under discussion in the UK, we can push for action. Rather than simply expressing concerns about the oceans, we can provide something concrete for our governments to legislate against: the end of bottom trawling. Individually, there are other ways we can reduce the impact of industrial fishing on our oceans. Consuming less fish is number one priority. This is not to say to cut out fish entirely, as fish has numerous health benefits. Rather, shop consciously. Go to the fishmongers, enquire about their fishing practices. Generally speaking, shopping locally from fishmongers/butchers, their produce is less likely to be from heavy industrial farms.
Finally, select Oceans as your avatar on the Get2Cop app and alert our representatives at the UN that this is something that you are concerned about. Preserving the oceans is one of the biggest things we can do globally to prevent rising sea levels and climate change – let’s show them that we are in this together and we will not take inaction for an answer.