Why fishing is important
The importance of our fisheries in helping to feed a growing global population is crucial. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its biennial 2012 report on World Fisheries and Aquaculture reveals the proportion of the world’s protein supplied by fish products caught and farmed is 16.6%. For a world population of 7.5 billion heading for 9 billion people by the mid millennium it is vital that the sustainable harvesting of seafood continues.
Equally important are the well-recognised health benefits of eating seafood. The Food Standards Agency recommends that consumers should eat two portions of fish per week and that one of these is oily fish.
The good news is that our fisheries are a renewable resource, and provided they are managed sustainably and sensibly, they will continue to provide an important source of protein. It is undeniable that wild capture fisheries have some environmental impact– every form of food production does – but it is generally recognised that the impacts are much lower compared to other forms of protein supply.
Fishing is also important economically. In 2012, UK vessels landed 627,000 tonnes of seafood worth £770m. In the same year, just over 466,000 tonnes of seafood worth £1.3 billion was exported from the UK. In employment terms, there were around 12,400 fishermen in the UK in 2012, with there being a similar number employed in fish processing. Many other people are dependent upon seafood for employment in the food service and retail sectors.
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