All LinksWhile there are two types of fish that you can buy and eat in a grocery store; these two are responsible for almost one in three of the dead and injured fish that enter the U.S. human food market.
A new study by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch found that about 1 in 10 fish found in Texas retail and food markets were less than 0.6 inches in length, which is about the size of a common greenback fish. It is estimated that one-third of fish consumed in the U.S. is less than 0.6 inches in length.
The longer-than-average fish were caught off the coast of Texas and consumed mostly for their edible meat. The researchers also found that the shorter-than-average fish were often caught far off the coast of Texas.
The study, published in the journal Science, was written by biologists and fish scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. They examined more than 25,000 fish to determine their size, landing place, and length.
“While the effects of overfishing are widely known in marine ecosystems, it is likely that similar problems are taking place in freshwater systems,” said lead study author Christina Auer, who is an adjunct assistant professor of fisheries at UMB. “We found that many small fish landed and sold in Texas are not full-sized fishes, but rather, fish that were captured far from Texas, possibly because of habitat loss,” she said.
As oceans continue to face a fish crisis, Auer believes that scientists should develop a national database of fish size and distribution to monitor the severity of the problem.
“When you look at the very small fish that are being caught off the Texas coast, it may be a true sign that overfishing has really begun in some areas, and that has implications for all of us,” she said. “The effect of overfishing on fisheries has been gradual and evolutionary, so the problems are emerging at different times and in different ways in different places. We don’t know what exactly the implications of this are, but I am sure we’ll be finding out as things unfold.”