East 52

Fished out

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Some fish stocks are coming back, but we’re still too fond of seafood.

Aseries of alarming figures reveal how we humans are deluding ourselves about the state of our marine resources. The catch is falling, but annual per capita global consumption of aquatic animals is rising: from 11.5 kg in the 1970s to approximately 19 kg today, according to data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Moreover, the per capita consumption of aquaculture products (farmed seafood) shot up from 0.7 kg in 1970 to 7.8 kg in 2008, 37% of total seafood consumption.

In just over fifty years of industrial-scale fishing of the seas, 29% of currently fished species have collapsed, defined here as catches dropping below 10% of the recorded maximum, meaning the species is unable to repopulate. These figures were first published in 2006 in the magazine Science, by a team of marine biologists led by Dr Boris Worm from Dalhousie University (Canada).

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