There is a risk of overfishing in many parts of the world’s oceans. Global fishing has quadrupled since the 1950s, and environmental organizations complain that catch quotas are too high.
Catch of fish in the world’s oceans has increased sharply since the middle of the last century and has reached a relatively stable level of around 80 million tons per year since the 1990s. This is shown by the Statista graphic based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The total amount of fish caught from sea fishing was 17.3 million tons in 1950 – in 2019 it was around 82 million tons. This corresponds to an increase of 370 percent. The catch volume in the Indian Ocean has increased particularly strongly (1,311 percent). But significantly more is caught in the Pacific (612 percent) and Atlantic (119 percent).
The sharp increase in catches in the second half of the last century was made possible by technological advances. Fishing boats were equipped with more powerful engines and larger nets. Highly sensitive 3D sonar devices, digital maps and satellite navigation now enable very precise fishing at ever greater sea depths. The result: According to the WWF, 33 percent of commercial fish species worldwide are already overfished and 60 percent are used to the maximum. Catch quotas are intended to counteract the negative development, but many environmental organizations still see the quotas as too high.