The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Monday voiced serious concern over a number of species of fish caught on the high seas and called for better monitoring and management of the stocks.
"The condition of stocks of certain species that are fished either solely or partially in high seas areas outside of national jurisdictions is cause for serious concern," the Rome-based UN agency said in its State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture(SOFIA) report. Of the fish stocks monitored, 17 percent are over-exploited, seven percent depleted and one percent "recovering from depletion," the biennial report said. Even though stocks have been fairly stable for the past 15 years, "more than half of stocks of highly migratory sharks and 66 percent of high-seas and straddling fish stocks rank as either overexploited or depleted," it said, citing hakes, Atlantic cod and halibut, orange roughy, basking shark and bluefin tuna. "While these stocks represent only a small fraction of the world's fishery resources, they are key indicators of the state of a massive piece of the ocean ecosystem," FAO deputy fisheries chief Ichiro Nomura said in the report. He called for "more cautious and effective fisheries management to rebuild depleted stocks and prevent the decline of those being exploited at or close to their maximum potential." In 2004, 95 million tonnes of fish were caught in the sea, while another 45.5 million tonnes were raised at fish farms, for a total market value of USD 7.15 billion (EUR 5.43 billion ). A combined 105.6 million tonnes was for human consumption, averaging 6.6 kilogrammes (14.5 pounds) per person per year. Fish made up about one-fifth of animal protein consumed. China is by far the largest supplier of fish, producing 47.5 million tonnes in 2004, including 16.9 million tonnes fished and 30.6 million tonnes harvested from aquaculture. Peruvian anchovies are the most heavily fished species at 10.7 million tonnes in 2004, followed by pollack at 2.7 million tonnes. The market share of fish farms grew by 32.4 percent in 2004, FAO said. (FIS)