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The aim of this research to investigate whether the public
are aware of the impact that overfishing has on the ecosystem. A questionnaire
was used to test people’s knowledge on overfishing. Most participants out of
the 25 demonstrated that they were aware of the impact of overfishing on the
ecosystem. The conclusion was that most participants were aware of the impact
of overfishing on the ecosystem but it cannot be extrapolated to the whole
population due to the small sample size.

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Sustainable development can be defined as “The development
that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs” ( There are many
issues that relate to sustainability. This research project will look at an
example such as overfishing. Overfishing can have many detrimental effects on
the world and everyday life and these negative effects can be narrowed down to
three main categories. Overfishing can affect the world in an economic, social
and an environmental sense. This research project will explore the awareness of
the public’s view on the impact overfishing has on the ecosystem. It is crucial
to find out how aware the public are on this issue so that people can raise
awareness in the future. Background research has been carried out to help form
a basis for the methodology.

 So what is
overfishing and what is the ecosystem? Overfishing is simply catching an
excessive amount of fish such that the population of fish in the ocean cannot
sustain and therefore leading to a depletion of fish stock in the market
( An ecosystem is all the living organisms that share an
environment, which in this case would be the ocean (
Overfishing is an issue that exemplifies the definition of sustainable
development as common knowledge dictates that catching more fish will easily
meets the demands of consumers. According to Jetson (2014) “fisherman have been
catching a prolific amount of fish at a faster rate that they can reproduce”
and therefore not allowing the ocean to replenish. Further statistical evidence
states that “in 2002 72% of the world’s marine fish stocks were being harvested
faster than they could reproduce” (Shakouri et al 2010).

It is easily comprehensible that overfishing can lead to a
depletion of fish stock in the ocean; however, according to fisheries biologist
Douglas Hirdson from BBC news (2006), overfishing can distort the whole food
chain and therefore affect other marine life as other predators have less to
feed on. This will distort the whole ecosystem. According to the news article
“Global fish stocks could be almost eliminated within 50 years if current
trends continue, says a major scientific study”

It is said that fishing in the past was more sustainable
than it is in the modern day as fisherman didn’t have the resources and hi tech
facilities to dig deep into the ocean to catch a greater amount of fish to meet
the increasing demands of consumers (Jetson 2014). As technology and new
methods have progressed throughout the years, fisheries are making use of
advanced methods that allow them to catch large amounts of fish with less
effort ( Many of the larger scale commercial fishing methods
can have a greater impact on the ecosystem than others such as the small-scale
methods as these catch an abundant amount of fish
(  Nevertheless,
many of the modern commercial fishing methods can be extremely unsustainable as
the methods involve bycatch ( Bycatch occurs when
unwanted fish are caught between the nets while fishing for different species;
an unsustainable practice ( However, according to True
(n.d.), there are many sustainable fishing methods that can be used which
reduce harm to the ecosystem such as Hook and lining, Traps and Trolling
methods. But can such methods meet the needs of consumers?

 Not only do these
large-scale modern methods catch an excess amount of fish, a lot of fisheries
can lose their nets in the sea. The lost nets often lead to many fish being
trapped by the nets and end up killing many fish and other sea life. This
effect is known as “Ghost Fishing” ( According to an article
by the food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, an estimated
150,000 crabs are lost each year in the Chesapeake Bay of the United States.
The article also claims that “fishing gear makes up about 10%(640,000 tonnes)
of all marine litter.” (



For this research report, a questionnaire has been chosen as
the method of data collection. The reason for using a questionnaire as the
methodology is that it is cost-effective. It is also very practical as the
questionnaire can be distributed to many people relatively easily. As opposed
to other method of collecting information such as an interview, the
questionnaire has the main advantage of being very practical as an interview
would be very time consuming to interview every participant in the sample. The
questionnaire will be designed using google forms.

The main objective of the questionnaire is to test the
participant’s knowledge on the topic of overfishing and to find out their
thoughts and opinions on overfishing and the effect on the ecosystem. This will
ensure that the data that is collected will suffice to answer the question and
to draw meaningful conclusions. The sample audience can be open to anyone as
the purpose of this research question is to test the awareness of the public.
The sampling method that will be used for this research will be an “opportunity”
sampling method. An opportunity sampling method is a method that chooses those
who are most available or convenient to the researcher therefore it would be
the easiest sampling method to use.  The
questionnaire will be distributed to 25 people, as this is a large enough
sample to collect feedback from.

One of the key questions that will measure the awareness of
the participants is for them to estimate the percentage of the global fish
stocks that are overfished / depleted. This will provide summary statistics as
well as quantitative data. Other questions that will test the public’s
knowledge is to find out how far they would agree with a statement that is















Results/Data analysis












40% of
participants (10 out of 25 participants) strongly agree.

44% of
participants (11 out of 25 participants) agree.

16% of participants
(4 out of 25 participants) gave a neutral opinion.

participants disagreed with this statement.

Percentage estimate %




























Percentage estimate %

Frequency (f)




10 < 20 2 15 30 450 20 < 30 7 25 175 4375 30 < 40 7 35 245 8575 40 < 50 5 45 225 10125 50 < 60 3 55 165 9075 60 < 70 0 65 0 0 70 < 80 0 75 0 0 80 < 90 1 85 85 7225   25   925 39825   Percentage estimate % Frequency (f) Cumulative frequency 10 < 20 2 2 20 < 30 7 9 30 < 40 7 16 40 < 50 5 21 50 < 60 3 24 60 < 70 0 24 70 < 80 0 24 80 < 90 1 25   25   Mean = 37%                             Standard deviation =  = 15.28            %                                                                                Q1 = 26.5%       Q2 = 34%     Q3 = 45%      IQR = Q3-Q1 = 18.5%   Many participants expressed their opinions on the impacts of overfishing. Majority of answers were along the lines of "Endangering to sea life" and "Extinction". Some answers were that it can affect us economically. When asked about their thoughts on the impact it has on sea life some people thought that something should be done about this issue as "Laws need to be enforced to reduce overfishing" and "Needs to be monitored closely". When asked about whether they do anything to help the issue, majority of participants said No.   Discussion/Evaluation After collating and analysing the data, there is much to be said that determine whether the results can answer the research question. One of the essential and fundamental questions on the questionnaire was "Are you aware of the impacts of overfishing?". The majority of participants gave an answer that was related to damaging sea life and extinction. This provides evidence to support that they are aware that overfishing has an impact on the ecosystem. However, there were a few participants that were unsure of the impacts of overfishing thus providing contradicting evidence to suggest that not all participants are aware. However, on the following question "What are your thoughts on overfishing and the impact it has on sea life?". Virtually all participants gave answers that portray overfishing in a negative light and some suggested that there should be something in place to reduce overfishing. Another question on the questionnaire was to find out how far a participant would agree with statement "Fishing for a particular species will distort the whole food chain in the ecosystem". From collating the data into a bar chart and a pie chart, It can be seen that most participants either of agree or strongly agree. By adding up the percentages, 84% of participants agree or strongly agree and no participants had disagreed with the statement which provides strong evidence to support the research question. However, from the pie chart, 16% of participants were unsure of this statement. The data from this question refers to the background literature where Douglas Hirdson from BBC news who had stated that overfishing can have an impact on the whole ecosystem. The statistics above that were collected (84% agree or strongly agree), shows sufficient evidence to support the statement. One of the questions asked participants to estimate how much of the world population are overfished/depleted. The mean percentage estimate, calculated via the grouped frequency table, was 37%. This was a relatively high mean percentage estimate which supports the fact the participants are aware that overfishing is a threat to the ecosystem and relates back to Jetson and Shakouri's findings that fisheries are fishing faster than they can reproduce.  However, the drawback of using the mean as an average is that extreme values or anomalies can easily distort the value of the mean. In this case, this seems to be true as one participant gave an answer of 85% compare to the second highest which was 58% according the raw data. A better estimate for an average is the median which was calculated through the cumulative frequency graph because it does not consider anomalies and rather focuses on the middle of the data. The median (Q2) was calculated to be 34%. The standard deviation was also calculated from the grouped frequency table. The standard deviation measures how much the data deviates from the mean and in this case, it was calculated to be 15.28%. This shows that there was a lack of consistency in the data as it varied away from the mean. This provides evidence to show that many participants have a different view on how much of a problem overfishing is to the ecosystems as there was such a variance in answers. The methodology used to carry out the data was a questionnaire. There are some drawbacks to using. One drawback is the fact the participants may respond to "Demand characteristics" This is where participants may work out the aims of the research and deliberately put down answers to try and meet the expectations of the researcher and thus will distort the responses/results.  Another problem with the methodology is the sampling method used to collect data which was the opportunity method. This could have been an unrepresentative of the whole population as participants were chosen by convenience. It could be argued that the sample was not large enough to represent whole population. This is true; however, it will be impractically feasible to collect data from the whole population. Nevertheless, the population mean for the percentage estimate can be somewhat estimated using a mathematical formula called the central limit theorem which can determine where the population mean can stand. However, to get a more accurate result, we would need to increase the sample size to a large amount. Another flaw in the methodology is the sampling method that was used. An opportunity sampling method chooses those who are most available to the researcher and in this case, a lot of students were selected. Students typically represent a younger age group and as result, this sampling method cannot be representative of the target population. Conclusions From the qualitative and quantitative feedback given by the participants, the majority gave responses that demonstrated knowledge that had shown that they are of the impact of overfishing on the ecosystem. However, it would not be plausible to extrapolate the results to the whole population as this research dealt with such a small sample size. For further improvements, using the central limit theorem would be appropriate to predict the certainty at where the mean population estimate would lie. However, to increase the certainty, the sample size would need to be increased. It would be more reasonable to extrapolate all the results to the population if a large sample size is used. To conclude, the majority of participants out of the 25 were aware of the impact of overfishing on the ecosystem.                         References Sustainable development commission, (n.d.) What is sustainable development. 31st March 2011 sd- commission online Accessed 24th November 2016     Jetson, K. (2014) Impact of Overfishing on human lives. April 9th 2014 Marine Society Today online Accessed 1st December 2016   Shakouri, B. Yazdi, S. Fashandi, A.(2010) 2-4th November 2010 conference, section 1. Accessed 1st December 2016 online Published in 2010 2nd International conference on chemical, biological and environmental engineering   eschooltoday, (n.d.) What is overfishing? (2010-2015) online Accessed 6th December 2016, (n.d.) Overfishing- a global disaster (2007-2012) online Accessed 14th December 2016 (n.d.) Commercial fishing methods. Britishseafishing online Accessed 14th December 2016   thefreedictionary (n.d.) Bycatch (2003-2008) thefreedictionary by farlex online Accessed 18th December 2016   Food and agriculture organization of the united nations (2009) Ghost nets hurting marine environment. online Accessed 18th December 2016 (n.d.) Ecosystem(1998-2016) online Accessed 24th December   British Broadcasting Corporation (2006) Fear and hope over fishing report 3rd November 2006 BBC News online Accessed 24th December 2016   eschooltoday, (n.d.) Impact of overfishing (2010-2015) online Accessed 20th December 2016   True, M. (n.d.) Sustainable fishing methods (2016) Sunset online Accessed 7th January 2016                                                   Appendices Copy of questionnaire                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             PDP Summary When I first started the foundation year, I had always wanted to improve my time managements skills. The reason for this is so that I could keep to a dedicated revision timetable. By taking the psychometric test, I found out that I usually "go with the flow" of things. To keep to a dedicated revision schedule, I had set small goals using smart targets so that I could ease myself into a revision schedule and slow but surely, I had ended up following a revision schedule for the whole of term 2. Along the way that had helped me succeed in creating a timetable, is limiting the amount of distractions so that I can be more productive. By filling out my PDP, I had identified what my distractions are and how to deal with it. One of my flaws that I have improved upon is being able to understand and critically evaluate the work of researchers. I feel as though I have done well in understanding the literature and being able to create arguments as I had carefully researched my topic/research question.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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