YORK, England, May 6 (UPI) — British researchers said the U.K.’s trawl fishing fleet works 17 times harder to catch the same amount of fish as it did when its boats were powered by sail.
Scientists from the University of York and Britain’s Marine Conservation Society said they used government data on the amount of fish caught and the size and number of boats involved to analyze the change in fish stocks since 1889.
Ruth Thurstan of the University of York, the study’s lead author, said the findings show trawl fish landings peaked in 1937, 14 times higher than today’s figures, and the availability of bottom-living fish to the fleet has fallen by 94 percent.
“Today’s trawl fishing fleet has far less success than its sail-powered equivalent of the late 19th century because of the sharp declines in fish abundance,” Thurstan said.
The scientists said they used previously overlooked records that suggest the decline in stocks of popular fish such as cod, haddock and plaice is far more profound than previously thought.
“This research makes clear that the state of U.K. bottom fisheries — and by implication European fisheries, since the fishing grounds are shared — is far worse than even the most pessimistic of assessments currently in circulation,” Professor Callum Roberts said.
The findings appear in the new online journal Nature Communications.
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