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UN Report: No Improvement in Global Overfishing

The world’s appetite for fish continues to grow. Fish stocks, though? Not so much. 

That’s the bottom line from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which released its latest State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture report yesterday. Global per capita consumption of fish reached a "new all-time high" in 2008.

Here are some of the facts from the report:

  • Fish consumption increased to an estimated 17.1 kilograms per person in 2008, up from 16.9 kilograms in 2007.
  • Fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540 million people, roughly 8 percent of the world's population.
  • Much of the increase is due to fish farming, which is set to overtake fisheries as the main source of seafood.
  • In the early 1950s, aquaculture production was less than one million tonnes per year; in 2008 it was 52.5 million tonnes worth $98.4 billion US, the report authors said.
  • There has been no improvement in the level of global fish stocks -- the overall percentage of overfished, depleted or recovering stocks is expected to be slightly higher than in 2006.
  • Slightly more than half of the world's fisheries were estimated to be "fully exploited," meaning their current catches are "at or close to their maximum sustainable productions, with no room for further expansion."
  • About 32 per cent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering and need to be rebuilt, the report said.

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