Wild-caught fish numbers

| 21 May 2024
minute reading time
Trawler fishing

Despite now being recognised as sentient, captured fish are still measured in kilograms rather than individuals, unlike marine mammals and farmed animals. This study reveals the staggering scale of wild fish capture, estimating 1.1 to 2.2 trillion caught annually between 2000 and 2019. This excludes unrecorded capture from illegal fishing, discards and ghost fishing – fish caught in discarded gear. Over half of these fish, 490 to 1,100 billion, are processed into fishmeal and oil, mostly for farmed animals. Due to poor welfare during capture and killing, fishing is a significant animal welfare concern. The authors recommend the Food and Agriculture Organisation report wild fish capture in numbers to help better assess welfare issues.

Mood A and Brooke P. 2024. Estimating global numbers of fishes caught from the wild annually from 2000 to 2019. Animal Welfare. 33, e6.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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