ad info
   personal technology

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Factoids: World fisheries in crisis

By Environmental News Network staff

July 10, 1998
Web posted at: 11:31 AM EDT (1131 GMT)

Approximatetly one third of the worldwide catch of 93 million tons is wasted -- thrown back into the sea dead or dying.   
(ENN) -- World fish production reached an all-time high of 121 million tons in 1997, and yet 11 of the world's 15 most important fishing areas are in decline and 60 percent of the major fish species are either fully or overexploited.

Anne Platt McGinn has written a Worldwatch Paper titled Rocking the Boat: Conserving Fisheries and Protecting Jobs, in which she concludes that the crisis in marine fisheries is being masked by the taking of younger and lower quality fish, massive imports from the developing world to the industrial world, and the rapid growth in fish farming. Some of the problems we're facing:

"Many of the fish species landed today were considered 'trash' just a few years ago," says McGinn. Low-value pelagic species, such as anchovy and pilchard, accounted for 73 percent of the increase in total catches in the 1980s. Since 1970, landings of the most commercially valuable species have dropped by one fourth. As a consequence, fishers are unraveling the food chain and grabbing fish of lesser quality and value. At the same time, fishers are hauling in species at a younger age, a practice that guarantees a smaller return in the future.

An estimated 85 percent of internationally traded fish originate in developing nations.

Non-food uses of fish in industrial countries are greater than the total supply of fish for human consumption in Latin America, Africa, and India combined.

Wild catches expanded from 20 million tons in 1950 to 93 million tons in 1996. But in the 1990s, growth in catches has slowed to about 1 percent, compared to 3 percent in the 1980s.

Approximatetly one third of the worldwide catch of 93 million tons is wasted -- thrown back into the sea dead or dying.

Spending on fishing fleets has been soaring, but there is so much overcapacity that profits per boat have dropped by more than half over the last 25 years.

People in industrial countries consume 40 percent of the world total of fish.

85 percent of internationally traded fishery products originate in developing nations.

Aquaculture is now one of the fastest growing sources of protein, expanding at 10 percent per year. Output more than tripled between 1984 (the first year global aquaculture statistics were compiled by FAO) and 1996, from 7 million tons worth $10 billion, to 23 million tons valued at $36 billion.

Today, one out of every five fish consumed comes from the farm. However, the growth in aquaculture has its own paradoxes. Many fish farmers feed high protein pellets made from wild fish to raise carnivorous species like shrimp and salmon. During the period 1985 to 1995, the world's shrimp farmers used 36 million tons of wild fish to produce just 7.2 million tons of shrimp.

In 1995, an estimated 20 percent of fish consumed worldwide were raised on a farm, compared to just 8 percent in 1984.

Farmed shrimp is the most profitable commodity in aquaculture, but it is also the most polluting. More than 15,000 hectares of valuable coastal areas -- the very areas that many wild species depend on for spawning and nourishment -- are choked with waste and abandoned completely each year.

Between 22 percent to 38 percent of global fishing revenues come from government coffers, not the sea. The global fishing industry receives more than $20 billion a year in subsidies.

Over fishing isn't the only problem. In the northwestern United States, Pacific salmon have vanished from about 40 percent of their breeding range, and more than 300 distinct salmon populations are at risk of extinction mostly due to the loss of upstream habitat areas to clear-cutting, dam building, and urbanization.

Copyright 1998, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
Related stories:
Latest Headlines

Today on CNN

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive

Enter keyword(s)   go    help


Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.