World’s Fish Stocks Dangerously Over-Exploited

According to a recently released report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 52 percent of the world’s fish stocks are “fully exploited” as compared with 47 percent just two years ago. FAO officials warned that the increased harvesting was unsustainable against the backdrop of rising consumption.

“Stock depletion has implications for food security and economic development, reduces social welfare in countries around the world and undermines the well being of underwater ecosystems,” says Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director General for Fisheries.

The report details how seven of the world’s top ten fish species are stretched to their limits. Populations of Chilean jack mackerel, Alaska Pollock, Japanese anchovy, blue whiting, Atlantic herring and capelin are already fully exploited or over-exploited. “Serious biological and economic drawbacks are likely if fishing capacity for these stocks is further increased,” warned the report.

As world fish consumption is expected to rise by more than 25 percent by 2015, FAO officials are stressing the urgent need to rebuild depleted stocks. Fish populations—not to mention the marine ecosystems and human livelihoods dependent on them—are at greatest risk in the Northeast Atlantic, Black Sea and the Southeast Pacific, according to FAO.