Posted by / Monday 22 May 2023 / No comments

Describe some harmful fishing practices and how they affect fishery habitats




Fishing is a highly important part of life in Ghana, whether it is for enjoyment or commerce. Although some fishing methods are quite excellent, others are thought to be damaging to the environment and have significant negative influence on the entire marine ecology. The viability of the fishing sector cannot be guaranteed by destructive fishing techniques. In this article, we will examine the list of harmful fishing practices and how they affect the ecosystem. Some examples of harmful fishing practices include bottom trawling, ghost fishing, shark finning, etc.


Bottom Trawling

Bottom trawling is a fishing technique used to catch fish living near the bottom of the ocean. It involves dragging a large net along the seafloor, catching any fish that are in its path. The net is typically made from heavy-duty material and is designed to withstand the pressure of the ocean depths. It is usually attached to a boat and dragged behind it, with a weight on the bottom to help keep it in contact with the seafloor. As the boat moves, the net is dragged along the seafloor, catching any fish in its way.

Bottom trawling has been described as harmful fishing practice because it not discriminatory, it scoops a lot of sea creatures on the seafloor. This method can also drastically slow down the growth of coral reefs and destroy fish habitats. Sea grass, which provides shelter and food for juvenile fish may be starved of food as a result of bottom trawling.


A fisher man goes to catch fish, he throws his net and catches a lot of fish. He now realized that his net has caught other fishes that it was not intended to. These unwanted fish have to be discarded. This is called bycatch. Bycatch is a harmful fishing practice because it destroys the lives of other animals such as, turtles, dolphins, sharks etc.

 Bycatch can be devastating to marine life and ecosystems, as it often results in the death of the animals. Bycatch can include species that are not targeted by fishermen, such as sharks, turtles, dolphins, and seabirds, as well as juvenile fish and other species that are not suitable for commercial use. Bycatch can also result in the destruction of critical fish habitat and can negatively affect the health of the entire ocean ecosystem.

Ghost Fishing

Ghost fishing refers to the condition where fish and other aquatic life forms are caught by abandoned fishing gear. There are situations where some fishing gear is lost and left in the water body. This fishing gears, like long lines, remain in the water and continues to entangle and kill marine life. These catches are not intended but occurs all the same. Ghost fishing can occur when lost items such as longlines, nets, and other fishing gear are left behind in the ocean and continue to fish. This can lead to the entanglement of marine mammals, seabirds, and other species, resulting in death or injury. Ghost fishing also leads to the destruction of habitats and the displacement of fish and other species. Ghost fishing has a lot of negative effects on the ecosystem. Non-targeted species are accidentally captured, for example, and this may lead to the decline in population of some species. There is also the problem of marine debris.

Shark Finning

Shark fin soup is one of the delicacies on the menu of many restaurants. However, the process of obtaining the shark fin is harmful. When a shark is caught, the fin is removed and the rest of the body is discarded. This type of fishing practice is a very harmful one. Shark finning a major cause of overfishing. It threatens the existence of other aquatic organisms. In the long term, shark finning can threaten their population and damage the marine ecosystem.

Use of Cyanide

Some people use cyanide to fish, though it is an illegal and dangerous practice. They make a few drops into the water and once the fish come into contact with it, they are stunned and reduces their agility. This makes them easier to catch. In Ghana, it is illegal to use cyanide to fish. One serious problem associated with the use of cyanide is that it poses a threat to the ecosystem. The coral reefs are then unable to provide food and shelter as should be the case. Eventually, the population of some aquatic organisms may be reduced or may even become extinct. Using cyanide can lead to the ingestion of the same since the products get contaminated.

Use of Explosives

Another harmful fishing practice is the use of explosives. Explosives are used to generate shock waves in the water and this stuns the fish and immobilizes them until they are scooped. Explosives are used by both commercial and recreational fishermen. This method of fishing can destroy coral reefs and other aquatic habitats. Apart from destruction to coral reefs, it can lead to the death of fish and other marine organisms. Explosives are made from chemicals, so using them to fish can lead to the release toxic chemicals into the water. This poses danger to ecosystems. It can also contaminate water and make them unwholesome to drink. The people who use the explosives expose themselves to the hazardous chemicals in the explosives.

Aquaculture Impacts

Aquaculture refers to that type of farming where aquatic organisms are reared. Some of the organisms reared include crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic plants. Aquaculture is used to supplement traditional fishing activities and to help preserve species that are becoming increasingly scarce due to overfishing. Aquaculture can also provide a reliable, sustainable source of food and income for coastal communities. Examples of aquaculture techniques include rearing fish in ponds, cages, or tanks; cultivating seaweed or shellfish on ropes or trays; and raising shrimp in man-made ponds. In addition, aquaculture can help to restore damaged fisheries and habitats, as well as reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. Aquaculture has a lot of disadvantages. It destroys the natural habitat of wild fish. The wild fish population can also contract diseases and parasites. Through aquaculture, aquatic alien invasive species may be introduced into the environment. Pollutants like fertilizers and antibiotics could be introduced into the water, which can damage the quality of the water. Interference in the migratory patterns of wild fish may also be caused by aquaculture.


To conclude, harmful fishing practices have negative consequences marine ecosystems. If the practice is not properly controlled, it can destroy habitat of marine life forms. Fishing will become unsustainable. 

Also Read: 

The characteristics of fish habitats

How to identify and describe common fisheries organisms

<<Back to Home Page

Go to other topics in fisheries>>

Go to the list of subjects>>

Related Posts