New mapping shows just how much fishing impacts the world’s seas | Science News

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New mapping shows just how much fishing impacts the world’s seas

Fish are harvested from more than half the area covered by oceans, and some spots are super busy

By
3:40pm, February 22, 2018
fishing map

VESSEL VIEWER  By tracking the activity of more than 70,000 fishing vessels, researchers made this 2016 map of total global fishing activity. Dots represent the average hours of activity within an area spanning 10,000 square kilometers.

Fishing has left a hefty footprint on Earth. Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface, and industrial fishing occurred across 55 percent of that ocean area in 2016, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science. In comparison, only 34 percent of Earth’s land area is used for agriculture or grazing.

Previous efforts to quantify global fishing have relied on a hodgepodge of scant data culled from electronic monitoring systems on some vessels, logbooks and onboard observers. But over the last 15 years, most commercial-scale ships have been outfitted with automatic identification system (AIS) transceivers, a tracking system meant to help ships avoid collisions.

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