Dead fish fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide

It is particularly inadvisable to hunt large fish in the sea, because they bind the earth's carbon dioxide. In fact, we could make up for the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent…

It is particularly inadvisable to hunt large fish in the sea, because they bind the earth’s carbon dioxide. In fact, we could make up for the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to millions of cars just by fishing smarter. Scientists know all about this.

Fishing emits 25% more carbon dioxide than previously thought, according to the results of a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California and the University of Montpellier in France.


The carbon dioxide that the fish releases after it has been caught had not been counted until now.


Carbon is stored on the ocean floor

Until now, the focus has mainly been on the carbon footprint that is created due to the fuel consumption of the fishing vessels. If scientists are anything to go by, part of the fishing pollution has been completely forgotten, but by that we mean that fish contain carbon like all other living things.


Large fish, like tuna, sharks and swordfish, for example, contain up to 15% of carbon. When the fish are pulled ashore and gradually break down, for example when they rot or are eaten, the carbon will eventually bind to oxygen and be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.


Otherwise, fish sink to the bottom of the ocean when they die. There, they are buried, together with their carbon, under a layer of organic particles, as well as mineral particles found on the ocean floor. The carbon from the dead fish is therefore stationary and does not get out into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. It would not be until the carbon was dug up that it could potentially be released from the ocean floor.


The fish are useful for the cycle of carbon in our environment, i.e. as a storage site for carbon dioxide in the sea.


Fish pollute like 4.5 million cars

Research by scientists into the effects of the carbon cycle increases people’s understanding of the carbon footprint of fisheries. If the carbon dioxide emissions of fish are included, the fishing industry has released at least 730 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since 1950.


If you only look at the year 2014, the fishing industry caused the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions throughout that year as the emissions caused by 4.5 million cars, for example.

Gaël Mariani, a researcher at the University of Montpellier, informed the research source Futurity that the results of new studies indicate that fishing needs to be carried out in limited periods in a more sustainable way than has been the case so far. In particular, larger fish would have to be protected so that they could die a natural death and bury their carbon with them on the seabed.

The good news is that almost half of fishing’s disruption of the carbon cycle occurs in areas where fishing is not profitable.

In such areas, fishing can only support itself if it is supported by the public sector, if the scientists are anything to go by.

Financially unprofitable fishing that also turns out to be harmful to the environment should therefore not be difficult to stop, if the scientists’ voices of reason are anything to go by.

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