Fishing Impacts
National Issue

Both historical and current fishing activi­ties pose diverse challenges to the management of sanctuary resources and the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem health. Fishing ac­tivities affect sanctuary resources through direct take, by-catch and habitat damage from the use and/or loss of fishing gear. The removal of targeted species and coincident mortality of non-target species (bycatch) may result in complex and broad-ranging ecological effects.  Because fishing can also be size-selective, concerns exist about ecosystem disruption by removal of ecological­ly-important age classes and key species of top predators (e.g., groupers, snappers, sharks and jacks).

All sanctuaries with management respon­sibility for the protection of natural resources reported fishing as a significant pressure. Many sanctuary ecosystems have been degrad­ed by decades of overfishing and habitat loss and current activities may further inhibit full commu­nity or ecosystem development and function.

fish swimming around coral
Removal of key species such as top reef predators through fishing can disrupt marine food webs and may result in complex and broad ranging ecological impacts. Ulua (Giant Trevally) are an important top predator in coral reef ecosystems. Credit: NOAA.