Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans.
Ultimately overfishing can lead to resource depletion in cases of subsidised fishing, low biological growth rates and critical low biomass levels (e.g. by critical depensation growth properties). For example, overfishing of sharks has led to the upset of entire marine ecosystems.
The ability of a fishery to recover after overfishing depends on whether the ecosystem conditions are suitable for the recovery. Dramatic changes in species composition can result in an ecosystem shift, where other equilibrium energy flows involve species compositions other than those that had been present before. For example, once trout have been overfished, carp might take over in a way that makes it impossible for the trout to re-establish a breeding population.
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