The new report, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, used historical fisheries data and population estimates to show how fish availability per person, both in the UK and globally, have changed since records began - highlighting the gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood.
Led by Dr Ruth Thurstan, now at the University of Queensland, and Professor Callum Roberts at the University of York, the team sifted through 124 years of fisheries landings records, revealing that UK domestic fishery landings have fallen to their lowest point for over 70 years.
When they accounted for processing losses and human population growth, fish availability from UK domestic supplies showed an almost continual decrease since the early 20th century, said the team.
Indeed, the team noted that domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended - supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice.
"Our paper shows the serious disconnect between healthy eating recommendations and the finite capacity of wild fish stocks to meet those aspirations,” said Thurstan. “It demonstrates how UK consumers have so far been protected from falling domestic production by increasing imports, but this demand is often filled at a high social and environmental cost in producer nations, many of them very poor.”
"These findings are a wake-up call to the UK government that our national health aspirations have to be considered on a global stage, and that we need to think carefully about the implications of promoting greater fish consumption in a world where many people are already protein deficient."