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Will the ocean ever run out of fish? - Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Jennifer Jacquet


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When most people think of fishing, we imagine relaxing in a boat and patiently reeling in the day’s catch. But modern industrial fishing -- the kind that stocks our grocery shelves -- looks more like warfare. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Jennifer Jacquet explain overfishing and its effects on ecosystems, food security, jobs, economies, and coastal cultures.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Ocean solutions: This article pulls together the full spectrum of solutions to ocean challenges, with a handy graphic. Jacquet et al. 2011. Scanning the Oceans for Solutions. Solutions. New models for sustainable, local seafood: Similar to community supported agriculture (CSAs) on land, community supported fisheries can deliver fresh seafood and ensure fishermen get a fair price – see, for example, Dock to Dish, which supports local fishermen and ensures traceability. There are also ways of farming seafood (aka aquaculture) sustainably – see, for example, Greenwave, which has innovated vertical farming of oyster, mussels, clams, and seaweeds. Community-based management: This video focused on industrial fishing, but small-scale fisheries are responsible for around half of the global catch, and are critical to food security, coastal economies, and cultures. Given these high stakes it's important to ensure small-scale fisheries have the support they need as they transition to and maintain sustainable practices. Efforts such as Blue Ventures, the Waitt Institute’s Blue Halo Initiative, and Rare’s Fish Forever program are working with coastal communities to develop and implement sustainable management.Seafood sustainability ratings: The Seafood Watch program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium evaluates and rates the sustainability of seafood to help consumers make more informed choices. Seafood fraud: One of the biggest challenges is the amount of fraud in the seafood industry – 30+% of seafood is mislabeled – so even buyers trying to make sustainable choices may end up unwittingly supporting overfishing. There is a great need for more efforts to improve the traceability of seafood. Illegal fishing: Having good laws in place is one thing; enforcing them is another. Collaborative efforts to track and intercept illegal fishing are underway, such as Global Fishing Watch. Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is commonplace. And illegal fishing is often associated with other illegal activities from slavery, to drug, weapons, and human trafficking. For more, see Ian Urbina’s Outlaw Ocean series for the New York Times. Data on global fish catches: The Sea Around Us Project at University of British Columbia provides information on the status and trends of fishing all over the world. The history of overfishing: This article describes the history of overfishing over the last few hundred years, and what it does to ecosystems from coral reefs, to kelp forests, to estuaries. Jackson et al. 2001. Historical Overfishing and the Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems. Science Magazine. Many more resources on ocean issues: The Ocean Collectiv has curated a set of resources on ocean conservation issues from fishing and seafood, to plastics, climate change, and protected areas.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jennifer Jacquet, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
  • Director Anton Bogaty
  • Animator Anton Bogaty
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen

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