January 31, 2011

Fish Consumption Reaches Record Levels

Experts at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report on Monday that fish consumption has reached record levels and world stocks need to be urgently rebuilt.

"The contribution of fish to global diets has reached a record of 17.1 kg per person on average, supplying over three billion people with at least 15 percent of their average animal protein intake," the FAO's report said.

The report said the increase was due mainly to a surge in fish farming, predicting that the number of fish which are bred for consumption was set to overtake those caught by fishermen.

The agency said in its "State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture" report that overall, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of about 540 million people, or eight percent of the world population.

"The status of global fish stocks has not improved," the report said, adding that people have never eaten as much fish and more people than ever are employed in or depend on the sector.

"That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern," senior FAO fisheries expert Richard Grainger, one of the report's editors, said in a press release.

"Fish is a good quality and high protein food and the sector contributes in an important way to world food security," he said.

"The percentage of overexploitation needs to go down although at least we seem to be reaching a plateau," he added.

The report, which was based on 2008 figures, explores the growing legal efforts to enforce tighter controls on the fisheries sector, revealing that a recent study estimates the cost of illegal and unreported fishing alone is at $10 to $23.5 billion each year.

The FAO report flags up debates surrounding trade measures meant to block entry of these types of fish and fish products from international trade, and a proposed global record of fishing vessels,

The report, which published as the FAO's Rome headquarters, said that it would assign a unique vessel identifier to each vessel that would remain constant regardless of ownership or flag charges over time and make it easier to police vessels engaged in illegal fishing activities.


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