1.7 million fishing boats sailed the oceans in the ‘50s, and in just 65 years, this number has ballooned to 3.7. However, the increase in number of vessels plying the open water does not equate to increasing number of fish caught. Ecologists have determined that today’s modern boats only catch 20% of what fishers used to harvest in the 50s. In short, more energy is being exerted to catch fewer fish. This is not good news.
This increase did not happen evenly on a global scale. While strict regulations in Europe, North America, and Australia have helped stabilize fish stocks in the area, the rest of the world has seen the opposite happen. In Asia, for example, fishing boats have increased by 400% in the same 65 years, with no signs of stopping. It is predicted that in 35 years, there will be another 1 million boats in the seas.
Demands in fish continue to rise more than current stocks can provide, which puts a lot of pressure on the ocean. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says that 90% of fish stock worldwide are almost exhausted.
Reg Waston, a fisheries ecologist at the University of Tasmania, said that these findings might be useful to lawmaking bodies for better regulation and conservation in the fishing industry.