If you didn’t already know, there’s a lot of waste in the process of commercial fishing. estimates that as much as two billion pounds of fish are discarded by fisheries in the United States each year. Some studies estimate that fish and seafood that is lost or wasted worldwide maybe be as much as 50 percent of what’s caught. Additionally, the problem of bycatch is quite horrifying when you think of all the sea life that is unintentionally caught and wasted in the commercial fishing process.

For more on this issue, check out the information from the Food and Agriculture Organization about food loss and waste in the fish value chain, or information the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides on fish wastes. Sea gear that is dumped or lost in waterways is also a problem. While these problems seem to be for commercial fisherman, there are things everyone can do to help reduce wasted fish at the local level.

Fishing Choices
Start the road to reducing waste while fishing by using natural materials for fishing line. If you are going on a fishing trip, choose a lodge that is part of the Kick Plastic movement. Check out the WeFish app that has a range of services for your fishing needs, including buying and selling used fishing gear. WeFish is also a part of the Together Against Plastic challenge to reduce pollution in our waterways. has a good blog with tips for fishing equipment. The Greater Cleveland Aquarium has put together a quick list of eco-friendly fishing tips. National Geographic offers an informative  slideshow on sustainable fishing. Also, make sure that the fish you are catching is healthy for you to eat. The State of California has an office and website that tracks this.

Recycle Used Fishing Gear
Terracycle has a program with an option to recycle fishing gear when you no longer have a use for it. Another great program is Berkley’s Fishing Line Recycling Program for fishing line and spool.

Reduce Bycatch and Waste
Some organizations such as the North Pacific Fishery Management Council are doing something about the massive bycatch problem. Seashare is another organization that works on reducing waste and donating extra seafood to those in need.

Seafood Choices

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is a great program to track and promote more environmentally friendly fish and fishing practices. And make sure the companies you purchase fish from are using their byproducts instead of wasting them.

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