UK Fish Stocks Down 94% From a Century Ago - Amount of Fish Caught Peaked Before World War Two

fishing boat photo

photo: Nick via flickr.

A new study done by scientists from the University of York and the Marine Conservation Society shows that the UK's fishing trawlers have to work 17 times harder today to catch the same amount of fish as they did in the late 19th century. The reason: Technological changes leading to massive overfishing. The study, published in Nature Communications, looked at the amount of fish caught by trawlers going back to 1889, when the fleet was powered by sail, and discovered that the amount of fish caught peaked in 1937.

Ruth Thustan, lead author of the study:

We were astonished to discover that we landed over four times more fish into England and Wales in 1889 than we do today. For all its technological sophistication and raw power, today's trawl fleet has far less success than its sail-powered equivalent of the late 19th century because of the sharp declines in fish abundance.

Decline Stocks Seen For Many Iconic Fish
The amount of fish caught per unit of fishing power has declined markedly since 1889: Halibut catch has declined 500 times, haddock has fallen more than 100 times, plaice, wolffish, hake and ling have decline more than 20 times, with cod declining by 87%.

Overall, populations of bottom-living fish have allen by 94% since the start of the period examined.

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More on Overfishing:
Overfishing Means Marine Animals Are Starving
Eco-Myth: Humans Have Only Been Overfishing World's Oceans in Modern Times
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