Sushi has to be my favorite kind of food. I dared to try it only a few years ago and I’ve been hooked (no pun intended) ever since. But according to a recent scientific study our sushi loving days could well be numbered.

According to the recently published report commercial fishing will have to be halted if seafood and fish stocks continues to dwindle at the present rate. With less than 1% of the world’s ocean surface protected from overfishing the study warns that if urgent action to curb overfishing and destruction of the ocean’s habitat isn’t taken now global fish and seafood stocks will collapse by 2048.

Analysing historical and scientific data, researchers discovered that marine biodiversity – the variety of ocean fish, shellfish, birds, plants and micro-organisms – has dramatically declined in recent years. Extending this pattern to the future researchers estimate that within fifty years the damage to all seafood and fish stock could be devastating.

“Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world’s ocean, we saw the same picture emerging. In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems. I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are, beyond anything we suspected.” Said Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, Canada.

Dr. Worm, lead author of the study published in Science Journal, went on to say that pollution, habitat destruction and climate change have also had an affect but that the potential collapse can be avoided if immediate action is taken to let ecosytems recover.

I’m not the only person who has started to eat more fish in recent time though. According to statistics developed countries like the United States are now consuming higher volumes of fish because of the documented health benefits. But there is some hope for those who love sushi and other fish foods. Land-based fish farming is being suggested as a viable alternative in meeting fish demands.

“We’re in a very dangerous situation with the twin forces working against each other; rising demand linked with falling supply because of overfishing,” Warns Robert Sewell, Chairman of Cell Aquaculture Limited, a company that is develops land-based systems for growing fish in a controlled, environmentally sustainable environment.

According to Mr Sewell, “We need to do three things to ensure the long term viability of fish stocks. Firstly educate consumers about the environmental benefits of buying farmed fish; secondly encourage more investment in aquaculture; and thirdly, manage commercial fishing in order to allow stocks to recover so wildcaught fisheries can return to healthy levels.”

However, just as with the issue of global warming, some people aren’t convinced that the gloomy predictions are right. Mike Jackson, who runs a fish stall in Widnes Market here in England, said he has seen little evidence of the fish shortages scientists are warning of.

“They told us the world would end ten years ago but we’re still here,” Said Jackson. “There are more fish at the market at the moment than ever.”

It’s probably too much to expect a man who believes that ten years ago scientists were predicting the end of the world, to see how ironic his last sentence was. But while Widnes market may be full of fish, the old adage of there being ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ may very well not be the case for much longer.

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