OCEANS ARE ON THE VERGE OF COLLAPSE

Photo: The world’s oceans are on the verge of collapse. The overexploitation of fish has tripled since the 1970s, rapidly depleting the seas of fish. About 90 percent of the world’s fish have now been fully or overfished, and a 17 percent increase in production is expected by 2025, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The UN's The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) says that the state of the world's marine “resources” is not improving. Almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now fished at biologically unsustainable levels, triple the level of 1974. Some 31.4 percent of the commercial wild fish stocks regularly monitored by FAO were overfished in 2013.

The report describes the situation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea - where 59% of assessed stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels - as "alarming". This is especially true for larger fish such as hake, mullet, sole and sea breams. In the Eastern Mediterranean, the possible expansion of invasive fish species associated to climate change is a concern.

Global total capture fishery production in 2014 was 93.4 million tons, including output from inland waters, up slightly over the previous two years. Alaska pollock was the top species, replacing anchoveta for the first time since 1998. Record catches for four groups - tunas, lobsters, shrimps and cephalopods - were reported in 2014.

There were around 4.6 million fishing vessels in the world in 2014, 90 percent of which are in Asia and Africa, and only 64,000 of which were 24 meters or longer, according to SOFIA. 

Globally, fish provided 6.7 percent of all protein consumed by humans. Some 57 million people were engaged in the primary fish production sectors, a third of them in aquaculture.

Fishery products accounted for one percent of all global merchandise trade in value terms, representing more than nine percent of total agricultural exports. Worldwide exports amounted to $148 billion in 2014, up from $8 billion in 1976. Developing countries were the source of $80 billion of fishery exports.

The depletion of the oceans' fish starts with consumer demand. You can make a difference by  eliminating your consumption of seafood. The average person can save 225 fish and 151 shellfish a year by cutting seafood from their diet.