Since I’m into fisheries economics, I found this chart from The Economist interesting. World fish production was 143.6 million tonnes in 2006, the highest ever recorded. Something doesn’t add up, however. According to the accompanying story, the wild fish catch levels off while the farmed portion of fish eaten by people is 47% and assumed to increase. The graph shows that farmed fish is leveling off. Also, they write that the catch in 2006 was 92 million tonnes, which obviously corresponds to the blue part of the 2006 column; they switched the colors of the columns.
Some of the comments to the story are interesting too. Derek L, for example, writes:
We’re all in this. There is no use blaming the Asians, the Norwegians, or the Spanish. Sure they happen to be the three biggest offenders, but anyone who buys anything but line caught wild fish should be slapped hard upside the dead for every purchase.
Not surprisingly, he’s a vegetarian. While I agree that industrial methods in fishing has problems, I also think that there are solutions and that we need to pursue them. Managed appropriately, I believe fish can help alleviate some of the problems presented by a growing population and declining biodiversity.
UPDATE: If you’re interested in a fuller picture of world fish production in a longer time perspective, check out my follow up posts: