UK researchers find UK trawl fleet works 17 times harder than in 1880s to catch same amount of fish

The UK trawl fishing fleet has to work 17 times harder to catch the same amount of fish today as it did when most of its boats were powered by sail, according to new study from the University of York and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), The effects of 118 years of industrial fishing on UK bottom trawl fisheries.

Researchers used data on the amount of fish caught and the size and number of boats involved to analyse the change in fish stocks since 1889. They found that trawl fish landings – including cod, haddock, halibut and plaice – peaked in 1937, 14 times higher than today, and the availability of bottom-living fish to the fleet fell by 94 per cent.

Professor Callum Roberts, one of the authors states: “This research makes clear that the state of UK bottom fisheries – and by implication European fisheries, since the fishing grounds are shared – is far worse than even the most pessimistic of assessments currently”.

BBCs Richard Black reports here.

The effects of 118 years of industrial fishing on UK bottom trawl fisheries, Ruth H. Thurstan, Simon Brockington and Callum M. Roberts. Nature Communications.

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