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The World Is Eating More Fish, and That May Not Be a Good Thing

A new UN report warns fishing has reached unsustainable levels

Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Fish consumption is on the rise around the world, and the demand may soon outweigh the supply.

According to a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global fish consumption per capita has reached a record high. Fish consumption now exceeds 44 pounds per person per year, the BBC reported, and the authors of the report included a word of caution that marine resources are being over-harvested at unsustainable levels. (Additionally, for the first time ever, more farmed than wild-caught fish is being consumed worldwide.)

Fish is one of the most-traded food commodities and has the potential to contribute to food security, but "the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreased from 90 percent in 1974 to 68.6 percent in 2013," the report said. An estimated 31.4 percent of fish stocks are being overfished at a biologically unsustainable level.

Overfishing is particularly common in the Pacific Ocean, where the population of bluefin tuna has shrunk by 97 percent, and where there has been increased pressure on countries like Japan to curb harmful fishing practices. Meanwhile, some chefs are taking up the charge for more sustainable seafood sourcing by making use of what's called bycatch, or the unintended catches of commercial fishing boats.