WASHINGTON—China leads the world in tonnage of fish caught annually as well as the amount of fish consumed, according to new findings reported in National Geographic magazine.
It is troubling that even at current still fairly low per capita GDP ($6,567 per capita GDP in purchasing power parity in 2009) China already consumes more fish than any other country. Consider that at current GDP 98 countries (even Namibia!) have higher per capita GDP. Imagine what China's fish demand will be at double and eventually triple and quadruple its current per capita GDP. The ocean's fisheries already are harvested at an unsustainable level.
Japan is number 2 and the US is number 3. Enough Asian nations are industrializing that current Japanese and US fish consumption levels from wild catch are not sustainable.
The research, conducted by the University of British Columbia in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and The Pew Charitable Trusts, ranks the top 20 nations that have the greatest impact on ocean ecosystems through catching or consuming marine wildlife.
China's top ranking results from its enormous population, despite its very low per capita footprint of fish catch and consumption. Japan is high on the list too, a result of its rate of consumption (often by importation) of fish rather than its catch. The "top 20" lists of fish catch and consumption are unveiled in the October issue of National Geographic magazine.
The United States comes in third in both lists, due to its relatively large population and tendency to eat top predator fish such as Atlantic salmon. Peru ranks second in the world in catch though is not in the top 20 fish-consuming countries because Peruvians on the whole eat little seafood.
One might argue that the growth in fish consumption will come from aquaculture. Sure. But overfishing of fisheries will increase even as fish farming doubles and doubles again. Fishing fleets are already more than double sustainable size.
Humanity's demand for seafood has now driven fishing fleets into every virgin fishing ground in the world, the scientists say. A report by the World Bank and United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization suggests that even if the number of boats, hooks and nets now used were cut by half, the world would still end up catching too many fish to be sustainable for the future.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2010 September 23 09:39 PM Trends Resource Depletion|