Pollution-induced fish diseases

Other Names:
Fish kills caused by pollution

Fish diseases observed in the past three decades and which have been attributed to pollution include: haemorrhages; tumours; fin rot; deformed fins; and missing scales and tails. The livelihood of fishermen is being threatened by these deformities as they become more common; in industrialized countries, increasing numbers of fish are deemed inedible.


The University of Miami Medical School (USA) reported in 1980 that the fish in Biscayne Bay show symptoms of 40 kinds of diseases, including two strains of cholera, and surveys from all areas of the USA are finding fishermen's reports of deformed fish.

In the USA alone, between 1961 and 1976, 482 million fish were reported killed as direct result of pollution. These reports, based on voluntary notification, probably account for only a fraction of the fish that were killed. Many small kills are not noticed or are not reported, and large kills are often not included because of insufficient information to determine whether the kills were caused by pollution or natural by factors. Kills of 1 million or more were responsible for 77% of all reported fish killed in the 15 years. Low dissolved oxygen levels resulting from excessive sewage (primarily municipal) were the leading cause. The second most common cause was pesticides.

Narrower Problems:
Red tides
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 14: Life Below Water
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST