35 Percent of Fish Caught for Food Is Never Eaten

As more countries depend on fish to feed their growing populations, waste from fishing operations is soaring, raising concerns over the sustainability of current fishing operations around the world. 

A third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished and about 35 percent of fish caught for food are never eaten. It's predicted that hotter temperatures around the world will also drive fish away from warm tropical waters, where nations rely on seafood, according to a report released Monday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0) of the United Nations.

“There’s too much pressure on marine resources and we need significantly more commitments from governments to improve the state of their fisheries,” Manuel Barange, director of the FAO fisheries and aquaculture department, told Reuters

The report also showed that one in three fish might never make it to a human stomach, since nearly 35 percent of all fish caught are wasted. Most of this waste is due to the product rotting because of poor refrigeration or from human error. Some of the fish are also thrown back because they are the wrong species or are too small to go to market.

0709-schooloffish One in three fish might never make it to a human stomach. Previous analyses that include estimates for illegal fishing show that wild fish populations are falling quicker than a recent report from the United Nations suggested. Getty Images

“Food waste on a hungry planet is outrageous,” Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana, an ocean conservancy nonprofit, in Europe, told The Guardian. “The fact that one-third of all fish caught goes to waste is a huge cause for concern for global food security.”

The data also showed that total fish production has climbed to a new a record high—largely a result of more fish farming in China. The report predicted that fish farms will continue to expand and that nearly 20 percent more fish will be consumed by 2030.

“Since 1961, the annual global growth in fish consumption has been twice as high as population growth, demonstrating that the fisheries sector is crucial in meeting FAO’s goal of a world without hunger and malnutrition,” José Graziano da Silva, FAO director-general, said in the report.

Previous analyses that include estimates for illegal fishing show that wild fish populations are falling quicker than the FAO report suggests, The Guardian reported.

“The crisis of [overfishing] will be hard to solve," Daniel Pauly, at the Sea Around Us research initiative at the University of British Columbia, Canada, told The Guardian. "However, collaborations between different stakeholders may help turn around some of the negative trends. This is the best issue of [the FAO fisheries report] that I have ever read."

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