Since 1950, marine fisheries production has increased more than sixfold. Marine fisheries exert a heavy pressure on marine species, and are the largest remaining industry based on killing wild animals.
The vast majority of wild fisheries products consumed worldwide is taken from the seas – more than 90%, as opposed to less than 10% from freshwater such as lakes and rivers. The fish are mostly taken from coastal waters which are subject to countries’ jurisdiction. However, the ongoing depletion of coastal waters is driving fishing vessels further into the sea, and to deeper and deeper fishing grounds.
Source: EarthTrends, Marine capture and aquaculture production, 2007
More than 75% of fish stocks are already fully exploited or overexploited. Over-fishing of a particular stock of species, and the damage caused by fishing activities to other species and the marine habitat, is considered by some scientists as more influential than climate change when it comes to explaining why the coastal and marine environments have changed so much.
Source: FAO, The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2006, Rome, 2007.
Fishing activities are subsidized by governments: an estimated US$ 30 to US$ 34 billion has been spent yearly on fisheries subsidies since 1995. While only 25% of the subsidies are considered “good”, the remaining 75% are categorized as “bad” or “ugly” – meaning that they create an incentive for unsustainable levels of fishing capacity, contributing to over-fishing.