Current global fishing fleets are two to three times what the oceans can support.
A recent report by the World Wildlife Federation states that at the rate global fishing is going, all species currently fished for consumption could be depleted by the year 2048. This prediction comes after finding that worldwide, 52 per cent of fisheries are fully exploited, and an astonishing 32 per cent are either overexploited, entirely depleted or attempting to recover from depletion.
This overfishing is in large part due to many chefs and restaurants continually serving overfished species, even going so far as to market the elusive breeds as delicacies, prompting a rise in demand. As an article by Food and Wine recently reported, the Bluefin tuna is an incredible example of this kind of overfishing meeting with a high demand. Despite being one of the most endangered fish species, Bluefin tuna is still regularly found to be the most sought-after sushi fish. Due to its overfishing, the Pacific Bluefin tuna’s population is estimated to be a scant 2.6 per cent of its one-time level.
The article goes on to explain that while farmed fish are often seen as a sustainable option, fish like tuna are often just young ones caught in the wild that are then brought to the farms to be fattened and sold.
Outside of tuna species other groups affected by fishing rates include West Coast shellfish, Maine lobsters and New England cod. These depletions are of a cyclical nature; as one species becomes overfished and depleted, fisheries turn to a different, more plentiful species, cementing that species’ eventual overexploitation.
While agreements are being made within North American governments and fisheries to slash quotas for specific species (allowing the species time to naturally recover) a staggering amount of fish bought and consumed within North America is imported from other regions with more relaxed sustainable fishing standards.
Despite the grim outlook of these reports there are strides (and apps!) being made to keep these predicted outcomes from becoming a reality. The average consumer can make themselves aware of overfishing trends and make a sustainable choice when purchasing their next seafood dinner.