A Look at the Biggest Challenges—And the Way Forward

The oceans supply us with food, help regulate our climate, and supply a livelihood for millions of people. Just as important, we depend on the oceans for recreation and renewal. But our seas are not the infinite bounty they appear to be. Today, no part of the oceans remains unaffected by human activities. And among the many factors influencing our ocean ecosystems, few have as great an impact as fishing.

Humans have been fishing the oceans for thousands of years. But over the past five decades technology has allowed us to fish farther, deeper and more efficiently than ever before. Scientists estimate that we have removed as much as 90 percent of the large predatory fish such as shark, swordfish and cod from the world's oceans. In 2003, the Pew Oceans Commission warned that the world's oceans are in a state of "silent collapse," threatening our food supply, marine economies, recreation and the natural legacy we leave our children.

Creating Sea Change

Through better practices, we can create healthy, abundant oceans for everyone. Seafood Watch, a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has always been about making this vision a reality. Working with consumers, fishermen, restaurants, retailers and suppliers, we've been making a difference since 1999.

But there is still much to be done.

Learn which seafood to buy or avoid

Wild Seafood

Ocean fish are wildlife—the last such creatures that we hunt on a large scale. And while the sheer size of the oceans is awesome, there are many signs that we have found their limits. Despite our best efforts, the global catch of wild fish leveled off over 15 years ago and 85 percent of the world's fisheries are being harvested at capacity or are in decline.

Yet there are fisheries being run in a sustainable way. We now need to improve the practices of the remaining fisheries and solve the most pressing issues, including overfishing, illegal and unregulated fishing, habitat damage, bycatch (accidentally catching unwanted species) and poor management.


Aquaculture, or fish farming, could be a great solution to the ever-increasing pressures on our ocean resources. Today, half of our seafood comes from farms. But the ecological impact of fish farming depends on the species chosen, where the farm is located, and how they are raised.

As a society, we can create sustainable aquaculture that limits habitat damage; prevents the spread of disease and non-native species; and minimizes the use of wild fish as feed.


Video: Can the Oceans Keep Up with the Hunt?This 15-minute film explores our quest for seafood and its impact on the health of our oceans.