Abstract common knowledge dictates that catching more fish will



The aim of this research to investigate whether the public
are aware of the impact that overfishing has on the ecosystem. A questionnaire
was used to test people’s knowledge on overfishing. Most participants out of
the 25 demonstrated that they were aware of the impact of overfishing on the
ecosystem. The conclusion was that most participants were aware of the impact
of overfishing on the ecosystem but it cannot be extrapolated to the whole
population due to the small sample size.

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Sustainable development can be defined as “The development
that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs” (sdcommission.org.uk). There are many
issues that relate to sustainability. This research project will look at an
example such as overfishing. Overfishing can have many detrimental effects on
the world and everyday life and these negative effects can be narrowed down to
three main categories. Overfishing can affect the world in an economic, social
and an environmental sense. This research project will explore the awareness of
the public’s view on the impact overfishing has on the ecosystem. It is crucial
to find out how aware the public are on this issue so that people can raise
awareness in the future. Background research has been carried out to help form
a basis for the methodology.

 So what is
overfishing and what is the ecosystem? Overfishing is simply catching an
excessive amount of fish such that the population of fish in the ocean cannot
sustain and therefore leading to a depletion of fish stock in the market
(overfishing.org). An ecosystem is all the living organisms that share an
environment, which in this case would be the ocean (vocabulary.com).
Overfishing is an issue that exemplifies the definition of sustainable
development as common knowledge dictates that catching more fish will easily
meets the demands of consumers. According to Jetson (2014) “fisherman have been
catching a prolific amount of fish at a faster rate that they can reproduce”
and therefore not allowing the ocean to replenish. Further statistical evidence
states that “in 2002 72% of the world’s marine fish stocks were being harvested
faster than they could reproduce” (Shakouri et al 2010).

It is easily comprehensible that overfishing can lead to a
depletion of fish stock in the ocean; however, according to fisheries biologist
Douglas Hirdson from BBC news (2006), overfishing can distort the whole food
chain and therefore affect other marine life as other predators have less to
feed on. This will distort the whole ecosystem. According to the news article
“Global fish stocks could be almost eliminated within 50 years if current
trends continue, says a major scientific study”

It is said that fishing in the past was more sustainable
than it is in the modern day as fisherman didn’t have the resources and hi tech
facilities to dig deep into the ocean to catch a greater amount of fish to meet
the increasing demands of consumers (Jetson 2014). As technology and new
methods have progressed throughout the years, fisheries are making use of
advanced methods that allow them to catch large amounts of fish with less
effort (eschooltoday.com). Many of the larger scale commercial fishing methods
can have a greater impact on the ecosystem than others such as the small-scale
methods as these catch an abundant amount of fish
(Britishseafishing.co.uk).  Nevertheless,
many of the modern commercial fishing methods can be extremely unsustainable as
the methods involve bycatch (britishseafishing.co.uk). Bycatch occurs when
unwanted fish are caught between the nets while fishing for different species;
an unsustainable practice (thefreedictionary.com). However, according to True
(n.d.), there are many sustainable fishing methods that can be used which
reduce harm to the ecosystem such as Hook and lining, Traps and Trolling
methods. But can such methods meet the needs of consumers?

 Not only do these
large-scale modern methods catch an excess amount of fish, a lot of fisheries
can lose their nets in the sea. The lost nets often lead to many fish being
trapped by the nets and end up killing many fish and other sea life. This
effect is known as “Ghost Fishing” (eschooltoday.com). According to an article
by the food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, an estimated
150,000 crabs are lost each year in the Chesapeake Bay of the United States.
The article also claims that “fishing gear makes up about 10%(640,000 tonnes)
of all marine litter.” (fao.org).



For this research report, a questionnaire has been chosen as
the method of data collection. The reason for using a questionnaire as the
methodology is that it is cost-effective. It is also very practical as the
questionnaire can be distributed to many people relatively easily. As opposed
to other method of collecting information such as an interview, the
questionnaire has the main advantage of being very practical as an interview
would be very time consuming to interview every participant in the sample. The
questionnaire will be designed using google forms.

The main objective of the questionnaire is to test the
participant’s knowledge on the topic of overfishing and to find out their
thoughts and opinions on overfishing and the effect on the ecosystem. This will
ensure that the data that is collected will suffice to answer the question and
to draw meaningful conclusions. The sample audience can be open to anyone as
the purpose of this research question is to test the awareness of the public.
The sampling method that will be used for this research will be an “opportunity”
sampling method. An opportunity sampling method is a method that chooses those
who are most available or convenient to the researcher therefore it would be
the easiest sampling method to use.  The
questionnaire will be distributed to 25 people, as this is a large enough
sample to collect feedback from.

One of the key questions that will measure the awareness of
the participants is for them to estimate the percentage of the global fish
stocks that are overfished / depleted. This will provide summary statistics as
well as quantitative data. Other questions that will test the public’s
knowledge is to find out how far they would agree with a statement that is















Results/Data analysis












40% of
participants (10 out of 25 participants) strongly agree.

44% of
participants (11 out of 25 participants) agree.

16% of participants
(4 out of 25 participants) gave a neutral opinion.

participants disagreed with this statement.

Percentage estimate %




























Percentage estimate %

Frequency (f)






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