Here are some interesting facts we came across while researching this story.
- The average consumption of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks worldwide is 36 pounds (16 kilograms) per person.
- In 2002, about 76 percent of the estimated world fisheries production was used for direct human consumption. Worldwide, about one billion people rely on fish as their main source of animal protein.
- Global production from capture fisheries and aquaculture supplied about 101 million metric tons of fish in 2002, five times more than 50 years ago.
- Of the top ten species that account in total for about 30 percent of world capture fisheries, seven stocks are considered fully exploited or overexploited.
- In 12 of the 16 statistical regions of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, at least 70 percent of stocks are fully or overexploited.
- The Northwest Pacific is the most productive fishing area in the world with 20 million to 24 million metric tons of fish a year.
- Trawling accounts for over 50 percent of the estimated discards (bycatch), while representing about 22 percent of total landings.
- Tropical shrimp trawls have the highest discard rate and account for over 27 percent of the total estimated discards. Among shrimp trawls, 62 percent of the catch is discarded.
- By January 2008, the European Union will require the use of acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) on fishing nets and the monitoring of bycatches through an observer scheme.
- In Alaska, longline fisheries using modified lines and hooks have shown reductions in seabird bycatch by 88 percent to 100 percent. New gear regulations are expected to result from this success.
- The number of people earning an income primarily from fisheries and aquaculture was about 38 million in 2002. Eighty-five percent of the world's fisheries and aquaculture workers are in Asia, with China accounting for one-third of the total.
- In industrialized countries, especially Japan and the EU, employment in fishing has been declining for several years. The fishing workforce in most developed countries is getting older as fewer young people are attracted to the business.
- The share of developing countries in total fishery exports was 48 percent by value and 57 percent by quantity in 2004.
- Japan is the largest single-country importer of fish with 18 percent of the world total, followed by the United States with 17 percent. The EU as a block is the world's largest market for fish, accounting for 40 percent of total imports.
- U.S. consumers spent 62 billion dollars for fishery products in 2004.
- More than 70 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, and at least 40 percent of that is farm-raised.
—David O'Connor and Marisa Larson