Rampant overfishing in the world’s oceans has led to a dramatic decline in big “predatory” fish populations — the one’s we eat, like tuna and cod — while creating an overabundance of small fish.
That’s according to data from a 2011 regression analysis by scientists at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, who used more than 200 marine ecosystem models to show evidence that big fish populations dropped by more than two-thirds over the last century. More than half that decline occurred within the last 40 years.
“Overfishing has absolutely had a ‘when cats are away, the mice will play’ effect on our oceans,” said Dr Villy Christensen, who led the study. “By removing the large, predatory species from the ocean, small forage fish have been left to thrive.”
The Nature of Overfishing, a “web aquarium” created by graphic designer Sam Slover, cleverly visualizes this data. Slide the handle at the bottom of the graphic to see what a century of overfishing looks like beneath the surface.