Are you a seafood lover? Did you know that excess fish consumption puts fishermen under pressure to meet people’s needs? That leads to overfishing. It mainly occurs because of people’s reckless behavior and wasteful fishing practices. 

Overfishing statistics show that numerous water animals get harmed and killed for no reason. Let’s learn more and question what we know.

Fascinating Facts About Overfishing

  • The global issue of illegal fishing is worth over $36,4 billion each year.
  • Nearly 39% of all fisheries have been overfished. 
  • Around 90% of the fish population is either fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.
  • In 2020, 16 freshwater fish species became extinct.
  • People eat twice the amount of fish they did 50 years ago, increasing the demand for more.
  • Only 10% of the world’s fish stocks are underfished. 
  • By 2048, oceans may be void of fish due to overfishing, habitat loss, climate change, and pollution.
  • 90% of the stocks of all predatory fish, like sharks, swordfish, and tuna, are already gone. 

What Is Overfishing?

Before we look at the data, let’s clarify what overfishing is.

The term refers to the practice of catching more fish faster than they can renew their population, leading to a constant decline in fish stocks.

Global Overfishing Statistics 

Fish is delicious and full of nutrients. But for billions of people, it’s also a great income source. 

Thus, overfishing has become a global problem directly affecting environmental, social, and economic stability.

Here are some global overfishing statistics of places that are facing crises in the field of aquaculture.

  1. In 2020, 20% of all Fish Stocks in the US Were Overfished.

(Source: Green Biz )

  • Since 2017, only three fish stocks in the US have been rebuilt.
  • Dating back to 1950, one in three fish populations has collapsed.

We have too many boats on a hunt for a few fish left in the ocean. The US overfishing facts and stats prove this. 

As overfishing progresses, many US fishermen lose their income and fishing interest. Plus, many fish stocks that once were declared overfished are never rebuilt again.

Let’s discuss the overfishing rate in aquaculture globally.

  1. 64% of the Fish Population in European Seas Is Overfished.

(Source: Europe Oceana)

  • In the Mediterranean Sea, overfishing has reached its peak at 96%.
  • In 2019, Sweden exceeded its total allowable catch (TAC) by 52,4%. Next on the list were the UK, with 24,3%, and Ireland, with 21,7%.

It seems like Europe will obey no fishing rules. With these percentages, all we can do is wonder, “Will the ocean run out of fish?”

  1. Asia is the World’s Largest Producer of Farmed and Captured Fish, With 91% of the Global Aquaculture Production.

(Source: Library NACA)

  • To avoid fisheries industry collapse in Southeast Asia, every country fishing in the region should reduce the practice by 50%.
  • 53% of the world’s marine fishers use Southeast Asia as their main fish source.
  • Overfishing in Southeast Asia puts 64% of the fisheries’ resource base at risk.

Asia is the big fish in global aquaculture production. Unfortunately, the high demand brings concerns about overfishing in the ocean.

  1. More Than 60% of the Global Fish Population Is Fully Fished and Declining.

(Source: NCBI)

  • Just 10% of the world’s fish stocks are underfished.
  • Around 90% of the world’s fish population is either fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.
  • Over the past 40 years, marine species have declined by 39%.

People’s greedy needs are destroying the planet’s ecosystem. We must find a balance between the exploited and overexploited fish species.

One of the overfishing solutions includes an agreement between the leading fish production and consumer countries.

  1. The Global Issue of Illegal Fishing Is Worth Over $36,4 Billion Annually.

(Source: Yo Cover)

  • 20% of the fish we consume is illegally caught.
  • In the Northwest Pacific Ocean, IUU (illegal, unreported, and unregulated) fishing is mainly practiced by Russia and China, resulting in 33% of the overall catch.
  • Each year, between 11 and 26 million metric tonnes of fish are caught illegally.

On top of the excessive legal fishing, we also have to deal with illegal fishing. IUU fishing is a very popular activity for foreign vessels. After all, who wants to pay taxes?

Global Fish Stocks Statistics

In a couple of years, some fish stocks may go entirely extinct. So, don’t be surprised if you can’t see your favorite fish on a restaurant menu.

  1. Globally, 66% of Fish Stocks Are Fished Sustainably, and 33% Are Overfished.

(Source: Our World in Data)

  • 85% of the wild fish catch goes for food, 5% for livestock, and 11% for fish farms.
  • Nearly 11% of the caught fish is used as food in aquaculture.
  • Annually, global aquaculture has 112 million tonnes of seafood production.
  • 40% of the caught fish worldwide is an unintentional catch.

Fish industries’ goal should be to get as much fish as possible without overly reducing populations. 

These fish crisis facts and stats are alarming. The only way to avoid fish extinction is to manage our resources sustainably.

  1. 90% of the Stocks of Predatory Fish Are Depleted.

(Source: FlowBank)

  • In 2018, around 80 million tons of tuna in the US were caught illegally.
  • More than 80 fish species have gone extinct in the last five centuries.
  • Over 3,000 fish species are on the edge of extinction.
  • In 2020, 16 freshwater fish species became extinct.

There’s no doubt that fish is on the list of endangered species.

The overharvesting fish stats show that some of the most endangered are tuna, swordfish, Atlantic cod, and sharks.

  1. In 2021, Hatchery Born Salmon Supplied 64% of the Stocks Caught in Sport Fishery and 48% of Salmon Caught In the Commercial Fishery.

(Source: Golden State Salmon)

  • In 2021, the targeted number of adult sprawling salmon in Sacramento Valley fell from 122,000 to 104,000.
  • In 2019, the production of Atlantic salmon reached 3,45 million metric tons worldwide. The forecast is that it’ll grow to four million by 2023.

If the salmon overfishing statistics don’t come in the way, this fish might have a bright future.

  1. 6 Out of 43 Shark Stocks Managed in the Atlantic Ocean Are Overfished.

(Source: NOAA Fisheries)

  • Around 50 shark species managed in the federal waters are fished under US law requirements. That prevents overfishing and rebuilds overfished stocks.
  • Over ⅓ of all sharks, chimeras, and rays are threatened with extinction due to overfishing.
  • In the last 50 years, the slaughter of sharks has risen by 400%, and the prediction for the next decade is that 20 shark species could become extinct.

According to global shark overfishing statistics, most of these species are at risk of vanishing. 

US federal laws and regulations make an effort to protect shark stocks from overfishing. This results in protecting more than 50 shark species.

  1.  36% of the Coral Reef Is in Danger Because of Overfishing.

(Source: Sidmartin Bio)

  • Studies show that more than 85% of coral fish species in the Coral Triangle are in danger because of overfishing, coastal development, and water pollution.
  • Marine reserves now cover 3,4% of the world’s ocean, way below the 2020 target of 10%.

We need more areas set aside from fishing and other disturbances.

Destructive Overfishing Statistics 

Different fishing practices, including gillnetting, cyanide fishing, and longline fishing, play a significant role in overfishing. These unsustainable methods cause great damage to the whole ecosystem.

  1.  Every Year, 63 Billion Pounds of Bycatch Is Caught Worldwide, Covering 40% of the Annual Marine Catch.

(Source: Green Matters)

  • Two billion pounds of the annual marine catch is labeled as bycatch in the US, covering 17%–20% of overall fish production. That’s 3% of the world’s bycatch. It occurs when unwanted animals are caught in the net and thrown dead back into the ocean.
  • Six pounds of bycatch are caught for every pound of shrimp.

This practice is destructive to fish and other marine animals, including turtles, sharks, trout, seabirds, lobster, and juvenile fish.

Bycatch is devastating to our oceans. Most of the time, it’s unnoticed and ignored, but overfished fish stats show its effect.

  1.  Estimates Show That Global Catch From Bottom Trawling Is Over 30 Million Tonnes Annually, Making It the Most Effective Fishing Method.

(Source: Wikipedia)

  • More than 90% of the 11 million tonnes of imported fish in the US are caught illegally with cyanide fishing. That method involves incapacitating fish by spraying a sodium cyanide mixture into the water.
  • Every year, 5% of the global commercial catch is addressed to ghost nets. These nets are usually lost or abandoned in the ocean, entangling and killing thousands of water animals.

Destructive fishing practices worldwide heavily affect the fish population decline. Fishing gear hurts over 650,000 marine mammals annually, and cyanide fishing has captivated a million tonnes of fish, mainly used in aquariums worldwide. 

Good to Know Facts About Overfishing

Let’s check some more interesting facts about fish consumption, and marine life:

  • On average, people today eat twice the amount of fish than 50 years ago. The increasing consumer demand for fish leads to overfishing practices.
  • It’s predicted that by 2048, oceans may be void of fish due to overfishing, habitat loss, climate change, and pollution.
  • The Bluefin Tuna is very rare and the most expensive fish, so overfishing is a big problem for it. 

Now that you know a thing or two about overfishing, let’s see if you can help.

Overfishing Solutions: How Can I Help?

Overfishing can destroy the whole ecosystem on the planet. But we cannot put the blame only on people in the fish industry. Here’s how you can help the cause:

  • Always choose certified sustainable seafood. Many companies produce quality seafood that’s good for humans and pets. Take a look at the pet owners’ reviews on The Honest Kitchen’s sustainable fishing policy, and you’ll return your faith in humanity. 
  • Be mindful of meal planning. Learn how to store fish properly and avoid food waste.
  • Spread the word. Share stories about ocean pollution and overfishing online. Tell people about the devastating effect of bycatch, dynamite fishing, and cyanide fishing.

Other factors like climate change and water pollution only increase the fish decline.


Overfishing affects fish species and disrupts the ecosystem’s entire food chain. 

The overfishing statistics above make us wonder if our grandchildren will ever see a shark at the aquarium. Catching too many fish in a short period will leave our oceans empty and sad, with many extinct fish stocks.

The ideal solution would be sustainable fish consumption and law enforcement actions against illegal fishing and marine pollution.


  1. Green Biz
  3. Europe Oceana
  4. Statista
  5. CareElite
  6. Library NACA
  7. Asia
  8. Eddu saver
  9. American Oceans
  10. NCBI
  12. Fish Forward
  13. GWCN
  14. Yo Cover
  15. World Ocean Review
  16. IUU Strategic Outlook
  17. Texas Real Food
  18. FlowBank
  19. World Wild Life
  20. World Wild Life
  21. Fishing Fan Blog
  22. Statista
  23. Golden State Salmon
  24. NOAA Fisheries 
  25. Federico Borella
  26. National Geographic
  27. Sidmartin Bio
  29. GBRMPA 
  30. The Conversation
  31. Green Matters
  32. Wikipedia 
  35. LureMeFish
  36. Our World in Data
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