Today's annual world catch of fish is about 86 million tons, and it has been at this level since 1990. Fish farming and other forms of aquaculture produce an additional 20 million tons. While the catch remains relatively constant, composition has changed. As popular fish stocks are fished out, species formerly considered "junk fish" replace them. An apparent steady supply of fish in markets and restaurants masks profound problems in world fishing. Experts estimate that nearly 75% of the world's fisheries now are overfished. In the United States, 43% are in this situation.
High technology, better scientific knowledge, and improved techniques produce harvesting efficiencies that may be counterproductive to proper management. Larger, more efficient vessels carry better catch gear, permitting a single vessel to do a far more thorough job of catching all the fish in a given area.