Fish is the last wild meal in the human diet, but roughly two-thirds of the world’s major stocks are now fished at or beyond their capacity, and another 10 percent have been harvested so heavily that populations will take years to recover. In 2004, marine scientists estimated that industrial fleets have fished out at least 90 percent of all large ocean predators, including tuna, marlin, swordfish, sharks, cod, halibut, skates, and flounder, in just the past 50 years. With the depletion of wild fish schools, virtually all growth in the global catch today comes from farmed fish.
The developing world makes more money from seafood than from coffee, cocoa, tea, or any other agricultural commodity. Shrimp alone counts for 20 percent of global seafood trade. Today, fishers from developing countries catch three out of four wild fish (by weight). Many of the 200 million people who depend on fisheries for a living—fishing families, boat builders, fishmongers—cannot afford to eat the fish they catch and handle.