Overexploitation or overfishing is the removal of marine living resources below sustainable levels. Ultimately, overexploitation can lead to resouce depleation and put a number of threatened and endangered species at risk for extinction.
The exponential growth in human population experienced in last decades has lead to an overexploitation of marine living resources, as a consequence of an increasing demand for food. The use of modern techniques to facilitate harvesting, transport and storage has accelerated this trend. There is a wide range of fishing techniques and they can be broadly classified into recreational, artisanal and industrial fishing. All fishing activities, if not conducted in a sustainable non-destructive manner, can lead to overexploitation of marine living resources Overexploitation of marine resources has major impacts on marine systems as a whole, but target species are generally the most impacted. When recruitment of target species is relatively high, the average size of individuals is affected because larger individuals tend to be harvested and populations display signs of growth overfishing. When adult populations are heavily exploited the number and size of the adult population (spawning biomass) is reduced to a point that it has not the reproductive capacity to replenish itself, leading to recruitment overfishing.