More than half the world’s oceans are being hit by ‘industrial fishing’

Commercial fishing covers more than 55 percent of the ocean’s surface, a new study has revealed in a potentially worrying sign about the depletion of marine resources. Fish from the wild do not currently contribute a significant portion of human caloric consumption, but “the footprint of industrial fishing in the ocean is over four times larger than the land area occupied by agriculture,” researchers said in a paper published by the journal Science on Thursday.

And the bulk of activity is dominated by just five countries: China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Publishing a comprehensive map of global fisheries for the first time using satellite technology and big data, researchers discovered that fishing patterns were strongly influenced by cultural and political events rather than weather: “The Christmas holiday and fishing moratorium in China have a bigger effect on the global temporal footprint of fishing than any seasonal weather changes.”

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