From: Sean Yoong, Associated Press
Published October 1, 2004 12:00 AM

World Faces Fish Shortage that Could Endanger Livelihoods of Millions, Scientists Say

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Overfishing is threatening more than two-thirds of the world's most valuable fish species, triggering fears that hundreds of millions of people in mainly developing countries will suffer food shortages and losses of income, scientists said Thursday.


Countries, especially in Asia and Africa, should strive harder to combat illegal fishing and pursue trade policies and environmental treaties that promote sustainable fishing practices, said a report by the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based research group.


"It is quite evident there is a fisheries crisis," the report's co-author, Carmen Revenga, told a news conference at its launch in Kuala Lumpur. "But the general public doesn't realize this is happening because there still seems to be lots of fish in the supermarkets."


About 75 percent of the world's most commercially important fish stocks are overfished or fished at their biological limits, raising concerns of looming shortages in developing nations, which produce more than two-thirds of all fish eaten by humans globally, Revenga said.


Demand for seafood products — mainly in the consumer markets of the United States, the European Union, and Japan — has doubled worldwide in the last 30 years and will likely rise 1.5 percent annually through 2020 as populations and food consumption skyrocket, the report said.


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Overfishing to meet demand in the international fish trade — which is worth US$55 billion (euro 44.63 billion) each year — could deplete fisheries, eventually jeopardizing ecosystems and sparking social and economic problems, said institute researcher Yumiko Kura.


About 1 billion people, mostly in poorer regions, eat fish as their main protein source, while 35 million workers are employed in fishing and breeding fish in farms, the report said.


Nevertheless, countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, and Chile have mounted strong efforts to curb overfishing, especially by tightly enforcing fishing regulations and imposing the use of less destructive fishing equipment, Revenga said.


Source: Associated Press


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