Lesson Plan

Freeing the Elwha (Overfishing and Fisheries Collapses)

Fish net.

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Grade Level:
Sixth Grade-Eighth Grade
Aquatic Studies, Biodiversity, Biology: Animals, Community, Ecology, Economics, Environment, Geography, Oceanography, Oceans, Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management
One Class Period
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Washington State Standards:
EALR 1: Systems, EALR 4: Life Science: LS2D, LS1C
Social Studies
EALR 5: Component 5.2
EALR 2: Component 2.1, Component 2.2 Writes for different purposes.


What factors have led to the collapse of marine fisheries around the world?


This lesson focuses on the recent collapse of marine fisheries across the world due to increased commercial fishing pressures, a result of increased technology coupled with the changing climate of marine environments related to greenhouse gas pollution. Collapsed fisheries include Pacific salmon, Atlantic cod, and Orange Roughy, among others. The collapse of these fisheries has resulted in dramatic shifts in food webs and ecological processes at sea and on terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, it has had major impacts on human coastal communities.


  • Fisheries- A fishery is an eco-region and an associated fish population used for commercial fishing purposes. Examples would be the salmon fishery of Alaska or the cod fishery of Newfoundland.
  • Collapse- When a harvestable species (usually fish) see their population or harvest rate drop to less than 10% of the original figure. It means that harvesting is no longer sustainable and the fish is in danger of economic extinction.
  • Fishfinder sonar- Fishfinder sonar uses sound waves to detect the location of fish, so that they can be harvested. Sound waves are sent from the ship and reflect off the bodies of fish. The time it takes for the sound waves to return to the ship and the angle of return indicate the distance and location of the fish.
  • Fish Farm- A facility used to raise commercially viable fish species from egg to adulthood to sell for the market.
  • Aquaculture- Raising aquatic organisms in contained units for the purpose of producing marketable products. This can include algae, shrimp, oysters, fish, and others.
  • Hatchery- A facility used to rear juvenile fish for the purpose of stocking rivers or lakes, producing fish for commercial fishing activities, or restoring endangered fish populations.


  • Lesson 18- Overfishing and Fisheries Collapses.pptx
  • The Grand Banks Collapse.doc
  • Marine Fisheries Management Assignment.pdf
  • Reflection Notes (printable handout)
  • Vocabulary notes (printable handout)



Marine Fisheries Management Assignment.pdf

Additional Resources





This is just amazing


Fishfinder sonar
Fish Farm

Last updated: February 28, 2015