fisheries. From earliest times and in practically all countries, fisheries have been of industrial and commercial importance. In the large N Atlantic fishing grounds off Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, European and North American fishing fleets have long taken cod, herring, haddock, flounder, and mackerel; the recent collapse of some of these stocks has been devastating to local economies. Worldwide, the most important catches include herring, smelt, cod, haddock, perch, tuna, mackerel, salmon, trout, shrimp, smelt, and flounder. The annual world catch of fish averaged more than 100 million tons in the 1990s, when it leveled off after increasing significantly since World War II. China, by far the world's leading fishing country, has had about 25% of this total, while the United States has averaged about 5% of the world catch. Other leading fishing nations are Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Spain, which with China account for more than four fifths of all fishing in international waters. Per capita consumption of fish and shellfish in the United States averages about 15 pounds. Since the 1990s aquaculture has increasingly supplemented the wild-caught fish, and now produces more than half the fish consumed by humans.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Environmental Studies