We’re running out of fish, fast — WWF

16 Sep 2015

A major new report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has revealed that fish populations have plummeted in the last 40 years.

WWF’s Living Blue Planet report found that some species of fish have seen populations drop by up to 75pc, with the 50pc average across the board a huge concern.

Considering how many people rely on fish to survive, through producing, fishing, selling and eating, a continuation of this theme will prove disastrous for millions of people.

Overfishing, moving too fast and killing corals

The causes are numerous. We’re overfishing for a start, but we’re not allowing schools to repopulate before we go back and tap them up for supplies again.

Breeding areas are getting wrecked, global warming is altering habitats across the planet and corals are disappearing fast.

Indeed the rate at which coral reefs are vanishing – WWF reckons they could all be gone by 2050 – is going to have a disastrous impact on 850m people who rely on the fish that populate these delicate habitats.

One-third of the 1,239 species of fish that the WWF investigated for this report rely on corals, so they’re doomed at this rate.


Green turtles at the Great Barrier Reef

“The fortunate news is that solutions do exist and we know what needs to be done,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF.

“The ocean is a renewable resource that can provide for all future generations if the pressures are dealt with effectively.

“If we live within sustainable limits, the ocean will contribute to food security, livelihoods, economies and our natural systems. The equation is that simple.

“We must take this opportunity to support the ocean and reverse the damage while we still can.”

Overfishing  WWF

The food chain at risk

The report actually finds that the fish we rely on most for commercial and subsistence fishing (the food supply, basically) is most at risk.

Underscoring the severe drop in commercial fish stocks, the report details the dramatic loss of 74pc of the family of popular food fish that includes tuna, mackerel and bonito.

“The ocean is an integral part of our lives. We are kept alive by the clean air, food and other services it provides,” said Ken Norris, director of science at ZSL London Zoo.

“This report suggests that billions of animals have been lost from the world’s oceans in my lifetime alone. This is a terrible and dangerous legacy to leave to our grandchildren.”

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic