Ocean Science Summary: Overfishing Trends and the Global Food Crisis

Sep 14, 2010

Fish are a vital source of nourishment, especially to people in the world’s poorest nations. Widespread overfishing has led to a decline in catch globally; however, the links between overfishing and food security have not been well-understood.

Thara Srinivasan of the Pacific Eco-informatics and Computational Ecology Lab, Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia and their collaborators assessed potential losses, globally and regionally, in fisheries catch (reported landings) and revenue (landed, or dockside, value of the catch) resulting from overfishing. They found a third to a half of commercial marine species had been overfished during the past half-century, with billions in potential revenue lost. By placing country-level catch loss trends in the context of undernourishment levels in many of the world’s poorest countries, the authors estimated that in 2000 the additional catch from sustainable fishing could have helped 20 million people cover their food deficit and avert undernourishment. This Pew Ocean Science Series report is a summary of the scientists’ findings.

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