Rather, fishing boats travel farther and work longer hours to catch a declining stock of fish, according to a study to be released Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America — and that could have an impact on the environment.
Looking at data on the number of fishing vessels, researchers determined the global fishing fleet went from 1.7 to 3.7 million boats between 1950 and 2015, the study says. Technology is a large driver of the increase: Fishing boats that had been powered for centuries by sails and oars are now primarily powered by engines. By 2015, 68% of the global fishing fleet was motorized.
This latest study anticipates there will be a million more fishing vessels on the water by mid-century. That could be a serious problem for the world’s fish stock.
The authors argue their estimates of fishing vessels should be used by local governments to better set regulations to protect the environment from overfishing.