Troubled Ocean Fisheries

June 15, 1984

Report Outline
Causes of Decline
Impetus for Change
Increasing the Catch
Special Focus

Causes of Decline

Fish Supply Strained by Demand for Food

The Price of fish is on the rise, not just in seafood stores and supermarkets in the United States but around the world, in rich and poor countries alike. The world's oceans, once thought of as an inexhaustible source of protein-rich food, are beginning to show the strains of overfishing, pollution and the ever-increasing demand for food by a human population that is expanding by nearly 80 million persons a year.

“Three tremendous shocks have hit the world fishing industry in the past 15 years, affecting every individual fish consumer,” said a spokesman for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. “First, the ocean fish catch, after rising 5 to 7 percent a year since 1950, suddenly trailed off to under 1 percent in the mid-1970s. That is about half the population growth, so fish is scarcer and dearer every year. Second, the great oil price rises in the 1970s affected fishing much harder than other industries, because fuel is the biggest cost component after the purchase of a boat. This hits both the small fisherman with an outboard motor and the big Russian factory ship, and both very hard. And third, during the negotiations for the new Law of the Sea Convention nearly all coastal countries adopted the 200-mile exclusive economic and fishing zone, radically altering rights of access to fishing banks that have been open to all throughout history.…What you have, in short, is the world's oldest and biggest industry after farming in complete ferment.”

The FAO is convening a World Fisheries Conference in Rome June 27–July 6 to assess what is happening to the fish catch and to plan a strategy for better management and development of ocean fisheries. The conference, the FAO spokesman said, “is the first global attempt since the triple shock to take an indepth look at what comes next.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Environmental Protection
Mar. 17, 2023  Forever Chemicals
Sep. 02, 2022  Preserving the Seas
Jun. 17, 2022  Plastic Pollution
Dec. 17, 2021  Endangered Species
Nov. 06, 2020  Preventing Wildfires
Jul. 10, 2020  Circular Economy
Nov. 29, 2019  Climate Change and Health
Sep. 20, 2019  Extreme Weather
Dec. 07, 2018  Plastic Pollution
Dec. 02, 2016  Arctic Development
Apr. 22, 2016  Managing Western Lands
Jul. 18, 2014  Regulating Toxic Chemicals
Sep. 20, 2013  Future of the Arctic
Jun. 14, 2013  Climate Change
Nov. 06, 2012  Vanishing Biodiversity
Nov. 02, 2012  Managing Wildfires
Nov. 04, 2011  Managing Public Lands
Aug. 26, 2011  Gulf Coast Restoration
Jul. 2010  Plastic Pollution
Feb. 2010  Climate Change
Jan. 09, 2009  Confronting Warming
Dec. 05, 2008  Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Nov. 2008  Carbon Trading
Oct. 03, 2008  Protecting Wetlands
Feb. 29, 2008  Buying Green
Dec. 14, 2007  Future of Recycling
Nov. 30, 2007  Disappearing Species
Feb. 2007  Curbing Climate Change
Dec. 01, 2006  The New Environmentalism
Jan. 27, 2006  Climate Change
Oct. 25, 2002  Bush and the Environment
Oct. 05, 2001  Invasive Species
Nov. 05, 1999  Saving Open Spaces
Jun. 11, 1999  Saving the Rain Forests
May 21, 1999  Setting Environmental Priorities
Mar. 19, 1999  Partisan Politics
Oct. 16, 1998  National Forests
Jun. 19, 1998  Environmental Justice
Aug. 23, 1996  Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes
Mar. 31, 1995  Environmental Movement at 25
Jun. 19, 1992  Lead Poisoning
May 15, 1992  Jobs Vs. Environment
Jan. 17, 1992  Oil Spills
Sep. 20, 1991  Saving the Forests
Apr. 26, 1991  Electromagnetic Fields: Are They Dangerous?
Sep. 08, 1989  Free Market Environmental Protection
Dec. 09, 1988  Setting Environmental Priorities
Jul. 29, 1988  Living with Hazardous Wastes
Dec. 20, 1985  Requiem for Rain Forests?
Aug. 17, 1984  Protecting the Wilderness
Jun. 15, 1984  Troubled Ocean Fisheries
Aug. 19, 1983  America's Disappearing Wetlands
Feb. 22, 1980  Noise Control
Nov. 16, 1979  Closing the Environmental Decade
Oct. 13, 1978  Toxic Substance Control
Feb. 27, 1976  Pollution Control: Costs and Benefits
Nov. 28, 1975  Forest Policy
May 30, 1975  Wilderness Preservation
Dec. 20, 1974  Environmental Policy
Nov. 14, 1973  Strip Mining
Dec. 01, 1971  Global Pollution
Jul. 21, 1971  Protection of the Countryside
Jan. 06, 1971  Pollution Technology
Jun. 19, 1968  Protection of the Environment
Oct. 30, 1963  Noise Suppression
Water Resources
Wildlife and Endangered Species