The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says “90 percent of the world’s fisheries (are) fully exploited or facing collapse.” Unfortunately, the lionfish, which invaded Florida waters years ago, is not among the threatened or endangered species. Fortunately, the lionfish is edible and tasty.

Who said this? “People come to me and ask, ‘If China doesn’t fish, where would Americans get their fish to eat?'” (Answer at bottom.)

An April 30 New York Times article, “China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink,” says “90 percent of the world’s fisheries (are) fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the U.N. (United Nations) Food and Agriculture Organization.” The article details how China’s “distant-waters fishing fleet” has vastly reduced the seafood catch around the globe.

Americans eat a lot of seafood: about 15 pounds per capita per year. Only the Chinese consume more seafood than Americans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service in a 2011 report (its most recent), “Imports of edible seafood made up 91 percent of (U.S.) consumption. Note that this figure likely includes a substantial amount of domestic catch that was exported for further processing and returned to the United States as an import in a processed form.”

Much of that imported seafood comes from China. NOAA’s website, in a section called “Farmed Seafood Breakdown,” provides the following excerpted information.

“Most of the seafood products listed below are farm-raised. However, some are from wild harvest, and our current trade statistics do not allow us to break down how much comes from each source.

  • Shrimp — Asian countries and Ecuador supply most to the U.S. market.
  • Tilapia — China supplies most, followed by Indonesia, Ecuador and Honduras.
  • Scallops — mainly imported from China, followed by Canada, Mexico, Japan, Argentina and the Philippines.
  • Clams — Asian countries and Canada supply most.
  • Oysters — mainly imported from China, South Korea, and Canada.”

The lesson: Know your supplier!

Answer to “Who said this?”: Liu Xinzhone, deputy general director of China’s Bureau of Fisheries in Beijing, responding to criticism of the country’s “distant-waters fishing fleet.”