It is critical for us to do everything we can to protect the environment, and that means paying attention to our consumption of natural resources. Sadly, there are some land and aquatic species that have been harvested to the point where there are not a lot of animals or plants left.
Perhaps climate change is devastating crops, or maybe hunting is causing extinction. This is overharvesting or overexploitation.
Overharvesting and overexploitation take place when we use so many natural resources that could harm the environment. There are numerous examples of overharvesting and overexploitation, and this is something that can happen to both plants and animals.
Even though many people are familiar with overharvesting and overexploitation related to fisheries and whales, this is something that can even happen to trees and flowers, particularly when they are used for food or medicinal value. Learn more about this devastation below, and explore ways to prevent it from happening.
Table of Contents
- What Is Overexploitation: Overexploiting Human Populations Harvested Resources
- Overfishing Leading To Endangered Species
- Overharvesting of Our Own Food Resources
- Why the Exploitation of Animals Takes Place: Reasons Behind Habitat Destruction
- Shortage of Resources Locally
- Murky Regulations and Inconsistent Laws
- A Lack of Education
- Not All Fishing and Farming Rare Reported
- Climate Change Is Making Everything Worse
- The Results of Overharvesting and Overfishing: What Happens Next?
- 1. A Loss of Resources For People
- 2. Irreparable Harm to the Natural Beauty of the World
- 3. Disruption of Global Food Chains
- 4. We Harm Other Animals in the Process
- 5. Potential Financial Ramifications
- 6. The Extinction of Other Species
- Examples of Overharvesting and Overexploitation
- Bottom Trawling
- Cyanide Fishing
- Blast Fishing
- Ghost Fishing
- What can be done to Mitigate Overharvesting and Overexploitation?
- 1. Increased Education
- 2. Increased Conservation and Protection
- 3. Halt Trawling
- 4. Better Labeling at Grocery Stores
- 5. Cooperate With International Governments
- 6. Follow the Advice of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
- 7. Provide International Aid
- Protecting The Environment Is More Important Than Ever Before
What Is Overexploitation: Overexploiting Human Populations Harvested Resources
There are a lot of plants and animals that work together to create the planet that we love and hold so dear. At the same time, even a small change in the environment can lead to ripple effects that have an impact on the planet as a whole.
As human beings, our production, consumption, and wastefulness can have negative impacts on biospheres and ecosystems. There are several examples that people should keep in mind.
Overfishing Leading To Endangered Species
One common example of overharvesting is overfishing. This is a term used to refer to the ocean exploitation of fish.
We cannot see under the surface of the ocean with the naked eye, so it can be difficult for us to figure out exactly how many fish are left. Unfortunately, if we remove too many fish from the lakes and oceans, there are not enough fish left to reproduce.
Eventually, certain fish become endangered species, and they could be hunted to the point of extinction. Even though oceans cover the vast majority of the planet, we can still fish to the point of exterminating species from the planet. Remember that fish aren’t just food.
They also contribute to the health of the world’s oceans, which have a direct impact on us. Therefore, if we fish too much, we could disrupt the balance of our ecosystem, contributing to harmful impacts.
There are plenty of examples of fish whose levels have dropped to the point where they are no longer sustainable. Furthermore, there are countless human populations that rely on fish for food, but if we consume too many of them, they may disappear altogether.
Overharvesting of Our Own Food Resources
There are a lot of significant threats to the biodiversity of the planet. They include:
- The Introduction of New Species
- Destroying Habitats
- Fragmenting Populations
As human beings, we need to eat. We need to harvest food to survive.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we can simply eat whatever we want. If we extract too many resources from the environment, their natural levels might drop to the point where they can no longer recover.
For example, when we harvest fruits and vegetables from the environment, we need to make sure we leave some behind to reproduce. Furthermore, if we try to plan too many of them at the same time, we could strip natural resources from the soil, meaning that there are not enough resources left for fruit and vegetables in the future.
Instead, it is important for us to only take what we need. We need to keep an eye on these resources to ensure there are always some left behind for future generations. Sadly, with the significant expansion of human populations, we are harvesting a tremendous number of resources from all corners of the world, meaning that some plants might go extinct.
The Tragedy of the Commons
With an example of overexploitation and overharvesting, it is time to take a closer look at something called the tragedy of the commons. This is something that takes place when nobody who is harvesting resources has any reason to be concerned.
For example, from the surface, it may look like we have a lot of specific resources. There are a lot of fish on the coast, or there might be a lot of plants in the wild. As a result, everyone simply takes what they need because they think there is always plenty left over.
Unfortunately, if everyone does the same thing, problems will start to develop. If everyone takes a lot of fish from the ocean, or if everyone strips valuable resources from the soil, the rate at which the resource grows will be slower than the rate at which it is removed. If nothing changes, the resource will eventually disappear altogether.
It is important for everyone to be aware of the tragedy of the commons because it causes dangerous situations to be overlooked. If nobody does anything about it, the end result could be extinction.
Why the Exploitation of Animals Takes Place: Reasons Behind Habitat Destruction
Before we can stop overexploitation and overharvesting, it is important to take a look at some of the biggest reasons why these problems have emerged. Some of the biggest reasons why natural resources are exploited to dangerous levels include:
Shortage of Resources Locally
One of the biggest reasons why overexploitation takes place is that there is a significant shortage of resources locally available. What this means is that there are some parts of the world that do not have enough food to feed their starving populations.
As a result, they simply take what they need. They might not care about what happens in other parts of the world because they need to survive.
This leads to the overexploitation of natural resources, including plants and animals. What happens in one portion of the world can impact another portion of the world.
Murky Regulations and Inconsistent Laws
Another reason why overharvesting takes place is that there are murky regulations and inconsistent laws. What this means is that not every country has control over what happens within its borders. Keeping track of what is happening can be a significant challenge, and the vast majority of countries do not have control of the fishing industry.
It is possible for people who engage in fishing and whaling to avoid international jurisdiction because it can be difficult to tell who is in control when they are in international waters. They simply need to leave the coast and they could have access to a variety of fish and whales.
A Lack of Education
Furthermore, a significant lack of education could also be contributing to overharvesting and overexploitation. Some people may simply take what they want because they do not realize this is an issue.
In addition, many people do not realize that there are problems related to fish populations. They might not realize that there are laws that they need to follow, and this ignorance contributes to a significant concern.
Not All Fishing and Farming Rare Reported
Even though there are some countries that make an effort to keep track of how many natural resources are farmed or fished, not all activity is reported. There are some people who fish in certain parts of the world that are not necessarily monitored as well as they should be. There are also some countries that do not make an effort to track fishing or farming within their borders.
In addition, there are a lot of problems related to customs and importing fish. The origin of the fish might not necessarily be checked, and there are some people who use different names for the same type of fish. That way, excess fishing is not reported under a specific category, allowing them to avoid potential fines and sanctions. It is difficult to keep track of fishing that is not reported.
Climate Change Is Making Everything Worse
Finally, climate change is making just about everything worse. The vast majority of the world’s oceans are not located in a protected area.
This means that, in most parts of the world, people are free to fish as much as they want. This contributes to significant damage and a loss of natural resources.
As climate change continues to get worse, the world’s natural resources will continue to dwindle, and the impact of these activities will only increase exponentially. Therefore, it is important to pay closer attention to everything that is happening related to overharvesting and overexploitation.
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The Results of Overharvesting and Overfishing: What Happens Next?
There are numerous aquatic plants and animals that have already gone extinct because of overharvesting, and overfishing continues to be a significant issue. Living organisms require resources to stay alive, but there are many activities that are simply not sustainable.
This can lead to long-term impacts both on human populations and the world as a whole. Some of the most important examples include:
1. A Loss of Resources For People
Of course, one of the biggest impacts of overharvesting is that people are going to lose access to vital resources. Even though we need natural resources to eat, we also need natural resources to be left behind. That way, those resources reproduce, and we continue to have food to eat.
For example, if we overharvest plants and leech natural resources from the soil, there will not be any vitamins or minerals left when we want to plant more fruits and vegetables for the next cycle.
The same can be said of fishing. If we consume all the fish in the sea, will there be any fish left behind to reproduce? Overharvesting can lead to a lack of resources for people and future generations.
2. Irreparable Harm to the Natural Beauty of the World
Furthermore, our activities are contributing to irreparable harm to the natural beauty of the world. For example, coral reefs have been under threat for a long time, both due to climate change and overharvesting.
If we strip valuable marine organisms from the planet, they will not be available to take care of the coral reefs. Then, when these reefs get damaged, they are nearly impossible to fix. Coral reefs are essential to the life of the ocean, and our overfishing is contributing to lasting damage.
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3. Disruption of Global Food Chains
When we overharvest and overexploit animals, we disrupt global food chains as a whole. For example, we get rid of important predators that are important for regulating other populations. This is a humongous problem in the oceans.
Other populations have the potential to grow unchecked, and they can just drop the balance of the world. If we overfish and remove predators from the sea, other populations will expand to the point where they threaten global ecosystems, contributing to larger problems.
4. We Harm Other Animals in the Process
Because of our fishing practices, we can also have an impact on other animals that we were not necessarily targeting. For example, if we deploy large nuts in the ocean, we may unintentionally catch dolphins, sea turtles, and other animals that were not the target.
Therefore, they end up as collateral damage, and they may suffer injuries that cannot be fixed. As a result, we have an impact on other animal populations, including those that we may not necessarily have been targeting.
5. Potential Financial Ramifications
There are significant financial ramifications that might result from our practices. For example, if we damage other ecosystems because of our practices, it may be harder for other people to survive.
They may depend on the land to produce natural resources, and they might fish in their local communities as a way to generate business. If we strip natural resources from those ecosystems, they might have a hard time making ends meet, and we can seriously harm local businesses.
6. The Extinction of Other Species
Finally, overharvesting and overexploitation can also lead to the extinction of other species. Even though removing predators from the ecosystem can contribute to a population explosion, it may also cause other predators to expand unchecked.
Then, as a result, they may hunt other animals to the point that those animals go extinct. This can lead to exponential harm throughout the world’s ecosystems, leading to imbalances that may never be fixed. It can damage aquaculture, harm food chains, and lead to unforeseen consequences.
In the end, all of these impacts come together, contributing to the loss of valuable resources. Regardless of whether fish and whales are hunted to the point of extinction, or plants (such as the footstool palm in Southeast Asia) suffer massive population loss, it can put biodiversity in danger and make it difficult for us to produce medicines and food.
As a result, harvesting, including fishing, has to be regulated to ensure people and ecosystems are not harmed by our practices.
Examples of Overharvesting and Overexploitation
When it comes to fishing, there are several examples of overharvesting and overexploitation that people need to keep in mind. They include:
This is one of the biggest examples of overfishing and overexploitation. This refers to the practice of dragging a fishing net along the seafloor. Then, all of the creatures that live at or near the bottom of the sea floor are caught in the net.
Given that many countries prohibit this action, it usually takes place in unregulated, international waters. There are a lot of species that aren’t even targeted that are caught in these nuts, and it can cause significant damage to the marine environment. Overall, the results of bottom trawling can be devastating for numerous types of marine life.
Cyanide fishing is another example of overexploitation and overfishing. This refers to the practice of spraying cyanide into the habitat of fish to make them easier to catch. In addition to harming the target, it can cause irreparable harm to the rest of the marine environment.
The good news is that cyanide fishing is illegal in most countries; however, there are numerous locations where it is still used. There are some portions of the world that are unregulated, and these devastating practices can still be used to catch fish. Of note, cyanide fishing can also cause irreparable harm to coral reefs.
Also known as fish bombing or dynamite fishing, this is a practice that is more common than many people realize. As the name suggests, this refers to the practice of using large explosions to kill or stun fish, making them easier to catch.
They continue to take place in isolated regions, but most developed countries have rendered this practice illegal. Bombing the ocean is an indiscriminate practice that leads to a tremendous amount of collateral damage.
It can completely destroy the food ecosystem of a specific environment, leading to ripple effects. Of note, this is also an incredibly dangerous practice for people, as individuals in the area can also be damaged by the blast.
Ghost fishing often refers to the collateral impacts of overfishing itself. Sometimes, when fishermen are done with the net, they simply drop it in the ocean. It does not dissolve when it enters the water.
Instead, it has the capacity to catfish even after it hits the ocean floor. It can kill numerous marine animals in the process, ensnaring numerous others who may suffer serious injuries.
It is critical for fishermen to make sure they dispose of their fishing gear safely. That way, they do not end up harming unsuspecting fish in the process.
Clearly, there are a lot of examples of overharvesting and overexploitation. The impacts of these practices can be severe, and they can harm plant and animal life all over the world. Fortunately, measures are being taken to limit the impact of these activities.
What can be done to Mitigate Overharvesting and Overexploitation?
Clearly, there are numerous examples of both overharvesting and overexploitation throughout the world. Fortunately, there are numerous efforts being undertaken to mitigate these impacts. A few of the most important examples include:
1. Increased Education
First, efforts are being made to increase education and awareness of the impacts of overharvesting. Some people are simply unaware that the methods they are using to fish and harvest crops are harming the environment. By increasing education and awareness, it is possible to encourage other people to take steps to limit the impacts of overharvesting and overexploitation.
Furthermore, efforts are being made to educate business owners. By extending these educational curricula into the commercial world, it is possible to encourage business owners to halt overharvesting.
2. Increased Conservation and Protection
In addition, environmental groups are pushing politicians to increase the growth of conservation and protected areas. For example, more state and national parks could be made, which are demarcated areas where business activities are not allowed.
Efforts are also being made to increase the production of protected zones. These are zones just off the coast where strict rules and aquaculture methods need to be followed for people to fish there.
3. Halt Trawling
In some parts of the world, trawling has been significantly limited or stopped altogether. Crawling is dangerous because it involves scraping the bottom of the river, sea, or ocean.
This can lead to tremendous destruction of the ecosystem, including plants and animals that live on the surface of the ocean. These might not even be the targets of fishing efforts.
By stopping trawling, it is possible to conserve the ecosystem and protect the environment.
4. Better Labeling at Grocery Stores
Even the tiniest gestures can help. Research has consistently shown that people care about where their food comes from. Some people are even willing to pay more money for food that has been developed sustainably.
Therefore, by labeling food at the grocery store, consumers can make educated and informed decisions about their purchases. If consumers demonstrate an increased willingness to purchase food that has been harvested sustainably, it might be possible to encourage businesses to use more sustainable practices.
5. Cooperate With International Governments
It is also prudent for developed countries to cooperate with developing countries. By working with international governments, coordinated plans of action can be made to limit the impacts of overharvesting and overexploitation. There are some situations where fishers and hunters simply jump from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, harming the environment along the way while assuming governments are not going to talk to each other.
By developing coordinated international efforts, the entire community can work together to preserve fish stocks.
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6. Follow the Advice of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
The Marine Stewardship Council, usually shortened to MSC, is an organization that encourages fishermen to make a living without hurting the environment. The council was founded by the WWF, and anglers can apply for a certification that demonstrates their willingness to use methods that do not harm the environment. Furthermore, this label can show consumers that their food is coming from a sustainable source, protecting marine species, marine ecosystems, and marine resources in the process.
7. Provide International Aid
International age should also be provided to countries that have a shortage of resources. One of the biggest reasons why overharvesting and overexploitation take place is that the people who live in these areas need these resources to survive. If developed countries that have a surplus of resources provide those resources to countries that still need them, those countries might not have to use farming and harvesting practices that harm the environment.
These are just a few examples of steps that can be taken to limit the impact of overharvesting and overexploitation.
Protecting The Environment Is More Important Than Ever Before
As climate change continues to have a significant impact on the world around us, it is important for people to come together to limit the impact of human activity. By increasing awareness of overexploitation and overharvesting, and by changing the methods we use to produce food, it is possible to protect the environment for future generations.
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Kyle Kroeger, esteemed Purdue University alum and accomplished finance professional, brings a decade of invaluable experience from diverse finance roles in both small and large firms. An astute investor himself, Kyle adeptly navigates the spheres of corporate and client-side finance, always guiding with a principal investor’s sharp acumen.
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