Wild Food Peak

February 12, 2010 · Filed Under collapse of fisheries · 1 Comment 

The importance of wild food has obviously been in decline right from the time when a few hunter gatherers decided to have a try at farming. Now, although wild food caught or gathered on land is still important in parts of Africa and places like the Amazon for most of us in the west it is a very small part of our diet.

Wild fish, on the other hand, is far more important. It is a superb high protein food that has been a significant part of our diet and the collapse of fish stocks forecast over the next 20 years could not come at a worse time.

We should remember that until the time of catch there is no input of energy in wild fish while farmed fish obviously uses far more energy.  Thus moving away from wild meat and fish will not be easy.

Below is part of an excellent article by Janet Larsen from the Earth Policy Institute website:

 “After decades of growth, the reported global wild fish catch peaked in 2000 at 96 million tons and fell to 90 million tons in 2003, the last year for which worldwide data are available.

The catch per person dropped from an average of 17 kilograms in the late 1980s to 14 kilograms in 2003—the lowest figure since 1965.

As fishing fleets expanded through the late 1980’s and as fish finding and harvesting technologies became more efficient, the world’s fishers have systematically gone after their catch at greater depths and in more remote waters. Over the past 50 years, the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has dropped by a startling 90 percent. Catches of many popular food fish such as cod, tuna, flounder, and hake have been cut in half despite a tripling in fishing effort. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the 4 million vessels scouring the world’s waters are at or exceeding the sustainable yields of three quarters of all oceanic fisheries.

The 10 most-fished species constitute 30 percent of the world’s catch. Seven of these have reached their limits and are classified as fully exploited or overexploited throughout their entire ranges, meaning that we cannot expect to increase their harvests. Included in this group are two types of Peruvian anchoveta, Alaska pollock, Japanese anchovy, blue whiting in the northeast Atlantic, capelin in the North Atlantic, and Atlantic herring. The other three species—chub mackerel, skipjack tuna, and largehead hairtail—are overfished in parts of their ranges.

Interestingly, several of these species became fishing targets only after the stocks of more desirable fish were overharvested. After the collapse of the 500-year-old Canadian cod fishery in the early 1990s, blue whiting catches increased. In the northwest Pacific, the overfishing of Alaska pollock and Japanese sardine led fishers to focus on Japanese anchovy, largehead hairtail, and squid. Some scientists warn that continuing to ‘fish down the food web’ will lead to harvests almost exclusively of bait fish and jellyfish.”

Fish Catch will be hit by Climate Change

November 21, 2007 · Filed Under collapse of fisheries · Comment 

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows many ways that food production will be hit as the world warms up.

One of the least known is the conclusion that carbon dioxide emissions have already increased the acidity of ocean surface water by 30 %, and could treble it by the end of the century. This is said to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans for 20 million years and is expected to disrupt the entire web of life of the oceans, reducing productivity.

Fish has been a very important part of many people’s diet and a significant contributer to the total food available to humans. Wild fish is already under threat due to over fishing so that with this additional problem of acid oceans, the per capita availability of wild fish is bound to fall as populations rise. In turn this will contribute to Peak Food.

Fishing Disaster

September 13, 2007 · Filed Under collapse of fisheries · Comment 

As population levels continue to increase and fish stocks collapse, we are going to have to face the fact that per capita availability of fish is going to drop drastically in the next 20 years. This is a great pity from the point of view of feeding a world running low on food and the oil and other resources needed to produce food. Wild fish is one of the few foods that has no fossil energy inputs up to the point of harvest and is a very important protein source for millions of people.



A new book by Callum Roberts called The Unnatural History of The Sea, says that 200 years ago the North Sea probably held two million tons of cod. Now it is almost certainly less than 40,000 tons.Prof Roberts says that at least half of human fishing capacity has to be somehow taken out of circulation and one third of every ocean has to be turned into protected recovery areas.

I don’t think there is any possibility of this happening at a time when other high protein foods are becoming more expensive and scarse.  We will continue  until there is almost no fish left, adding to the other food supply problems now building. If several of these problems start having a big effect together, food shortages will cause panic, hoarding and speculation, making a bad situation a lot worse.

One Response

  1. Trisha Says: