How the Fish Oil Industry Kills Dolphins & Whales – nothingfishy

Algae Omega 3 Blog

How the Fish Oil Industry Kills Dolphins & Whales

Posted on October 27
by catch fish oil industry

Around the world, $1.2 billion is spent on fish oil pills every year, and more than 20 million people use these supplements to prevent deficiencies of omega 3 fatty acids. While it's true that omega 3 fatty acids are essential to a healthy diet, fish oil capsules are not without their consequences. As products of commercial fishing operations, fish oil omega 3 supplements are contributing to the serious problem of by-catch, which endangers sea life around the world.

 

What Is By-Catch?

By-catch is the term given to the accidental capture of sea life as a consequence of commercial fishing. For large scale fishing, poles are not used because they can only catch a single fish at a time. Instead, fishermen drop large mesh nets into the water to capture large quantities of fish at once. Whales, dolphins and porpoises that use echolation to navigate the ocean waters cannot sense the presence of these nets and often swim into them.

Although the whales, dolphins and porpoises are often killed as an indirect result of commercial fishing, others such as sea turtles and birds are often directly killed by the fisherman as they are considered a nuisance. 

 

by-catch turtle

 

What Are the Consequences of By-Catch?

The impact of by-catch is profound. Scientists estimate that 300,000 whales, porpoises and dolphins are killed by fishing nets each year, meaning that more of these creatures die due to fishing than die from natural causes on an annual basis. An incredibly depressing statistic.

Species of dolphin and small whales that live off the coasts of California, Hawaii and New Zealand have been added to the endangered lists simply because of the consequences of commercial fishing. From 1970 to 2012, the amount of marine vertebrate creatures living in ocean waters dropped by 49 percent, and experts largely blame irresponsible fishing practices for the dramatic loss of sea life.

 

by catch whale caught in net

 

Despite some innovative new nets being developed, little worldwide initiative is being made to stop the profit-hungry commercial fishing industry from dramatically decreasing the number of already endangered ocean species.  

 

Fish Oil and By-Catch

Roughly 99 percent of fish oil capsules are made from anchovies, sardines, cod and tuna, all of which are fished from ocean waters. As business like any other, many supplement brands seek out the lowest costing raw materials in order to make their products as cheaply as possible to maximise profits and please shareholders. As a result, manufacturers often purchase their raw materials from commercial fishing companies that use the most inexpensive methods of catching fish. Some brands are starting to use the source of fish in their marketing, but very little is said for the method of fishing or the type of fish nets used. 

The European Union has passed laws banning the use of certain types of fishing nets that are particularly dangerous for sea life. This has naturally increased the cost of fishing in waters off the shores of Europe and led some fish oil supplement manufacturers to seek out suppliers that fish in unregulated waters. As a result, many people purchase fish oil capsules are unknowingly supporting companies that are causing serious harm to marine life. 

 

An Eco-Conscious Omega 3 Alternative

Eco-conscious men and women still that want to complete their diets with an omega 3 supplement do have an alternative to fish oil available. Recent innovations have led to Omega 3 from DHA-enriched algae being a viable commercial alternative. Grown in a controlled environment, not only is it free from toxins but it also has zero impact on ocean ecosystems. 

 

References:

WWF - Bycatch

NutriFacts EFAs

NIH - Omega 3

WorldWildLife - Bycatch

The Independent - Fish Oils