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Deforestation is Affecting Fishing In a Negative Way, Here’s How.

Deforestation occurs worldwide and it is proving to have a negative impact on fishing. Deforestation is the permanent clearing of trees for materials and to make space for something else, like agriculture or housing. It may be hard to conceptualize the severity of deforestation currently, so to put it in perspective an area of forest the size of 36 football fields is estimated to be lost to deforestation every minute. Learn More about deforestation!


You may be wondering how a decrease in trees is related to a decrease in catches when you are out fishing. It’s not like fish live in trees, but oddly enough they do need trees to live, and what replaces the forest impacts freshwater fish just as much. Let's dive into how this happens, what results we can expect for the future, and how we can help.

The Impact of What is Lost

All bodies of freshwater are linked to the ecosystem they are a part of through interactions with all of the living and inanimate components. Fish are a living part of ecosystems so they benefit from these interactions as well. When the forest surrounding a body of water is healthy it provides shade, fallen branches for shelter, a stable environment, and nutrients for fish.

Water Temperature

Water Temperature

A variety of fish species are dependent on environmental signals like temperature to complete breeding cycles. Without the cover of trees to block out the sun the temperature of a body of water will rise. Even a few degrees can change a species’ breeding cycle and even make it difficult for some types of fish to survive.

Safe Cover

Overhanging branches for fish

Without the shelter granted by leaves and fallen branches, it becomes more difficult for fish to hide from predators. This is especially true for young fish that depend on places to hide from predators until they can grow large and fast enough to fend for themselves.

Erosion Protection


The roots of trees and other plants act as a foundation to protect bodies of water from erosion, a process that can change the formation of rivers and fill waterways with loose soil mixed with other forms of runoff. In some cases, erosion serves to deepen and grow rivers, but for bodies of freshwater that rely on plant life for the stability of their banks and the filtration of their water erosion can worsen water quality and harm its inhabitants. Learn More.

Nutrients For Fish

Fish and nutrients

The forest surrounding a body of water aids in providing nutrients to the fish that live there. Various species of insects and other small animals develop in the forest and move to the water for hydration where they become prey for growing fish. Once a forest is destroyed so are those sources of nutrition that escalate competition for survival amongst fish species.

What Takes the Place of All Those Trees?

A majority of deforestation is the result of a desire for land to farm crops like palm oil, to raise livestock, to drill, and to mine for resources. All of these actions prevent the forest from naturally regrowing and lead to pollution.

Livestock Farm

For farming and livestock, freshwater is a natural resource that can improve growth and ease maintenance since water does not need to be transported as far. For this reason, operations may alter waterways and draw water from them faster than they can be replenished. These changes can make it impossible for fish to migrate and it can shrink their environment in ways that may inhibit their survival.

Even if waterways are not intentionally disrupted after deforestation of an area they still face the risk of pollution. Sewage runoff from livestock, fertilizers from farming, oil, and other debris from drilling and mining all find their way to water sources when it rains. Here's some more info! These pollutants can change the pH, oxygen levels, and clarity of the water in ways that harm fish. This is especially impactful since there are no longer any trees and plants to help absorb and filter these toxins.

Pollution is also apparent in the air as the industries causing deforestation produce Carbon dioxide and contribute to global warming. This takes the impact of deforestation far beyond local water sources as a change in climate affects fish and waterways around the world. Read More Here!

What Can You Do?

Fish can lose so much of what they need to survive when their environment faces deforestation and this applies to bodies of water across the world. Leaving a body of water alone does not mean it is protected. If we truly wish to protect the species we love to fish we must protect all of their environment, not just the aquatic part.

You can help fight against deforestation and protect the waters you fish by purchasing sustainably sourced foods, backing organizations that work to reverse the damage, and by fishing responsibly. We can all make a difference when it comes to protecting the environment.

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