Direct Exploitation

The direct exploitation of wild populations of species is the second leading cause of harm to ecosystems globally [1]. The leading cause of direct exploitation is the fishing industry, despite 50% of all the fish eaten by humans now being raised in intensive aquaculture operations [2].

Of course, fishing inherently exploits wildlife, but in addition to the targeted species, many non-target species are inadvertently caught as ‘by-catch’. Approximately 40% of all fish caught by the fishing industry are by-catch [4]: this includes a range of species such as turtles, whales and sharks [4]. For example, sharks are being killed by the fishing industry faster than their populations can recover, and their absence would seriously disrupt marine ecosystems [5].

  1. (WWF: IPBES Global Assessment Report Summary, 2019) –
  2. (FAO: World Livestock, 2011) –
  3. Davies, R.W.D., Cripps, S.J., Nickson, A. and Porter, G., 2009. Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch. Marine Policy, 33(4), pp.661-672. –
  4. Worm, B., Davis, B., Kettemer, L., Ward-Paige, C.A., Chapman, D., Heithaus, M.R., Kessel, S.T. & Gruber, S.H., 2013. Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks. Marine Policy, 40, 194-204. –