Humanity ate more fish than ever before last year, with the average person accounting for around 17 kilograms of our swimming friends, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In total, world fisheries and fish farms produced 145 million tonnes of fish in 2009, 90 from capture and 55 from aquaculture.
Unfortunately, while the world’s appetite for fish has increased, its ability to manage fisheries hasn’t. Around 32% of world stocks are currently overexploited, depleted or recovering, says the FAO’s latest report on the topic.
“That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern,” says Richard Grainger, an FAO fisheries expert and report author (press release). “The percentage of overexploitation needs to go down although at least we seem to be reaching a plateau.”
Aquaculture accounted for 46% of world food fish production, slightly down on the 2008 report data due to a revision of statistics by China. Its rapid growth as a sector means it is still on course to overtake capture fisheries though (see Nature’s 2009 feature Future Fish for more on this).
Image: photo by Jorge Andrade via Flickr under Creative Commons.