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Lakes yield 12 million tonnes of fish a year

Staff Writer |
Fish harvests from freshwater lakes alone could total more than 12 million tons a year globally and, according to a study published today by Michigan State University and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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“Our study provides an independent estimate of global inland fishery harvests based on food web ecology and fisheries activity, and can help resource managers in the United States and around the world make informed decisions about the often competing uses of inland fresh waters,” said Andrew Deines, a scientist with Michigan State University’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and the report’s lead author.

Freshwater ecosystems across the planet provide valuable services, such as drinking water, hydropower, irrigation for agriculture and economically important recreation and tourism.

The USGS, Michigan State University and partners estimated the 2011 fish harvest from over 246,000 lakes worldwide. They found that the harvest was 18.5 billion pounds.

These lakes accounted for about 50 percent of the global freshwater lake area.

Because the study did not assess the inland fishery harvest from rivers, wetlands and very small lakes, the true total global freshwater fish harvest in 2011 likely exceeded the 12 million tons reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“This finding is important because it suggests that harvests from inland fisheries are underreported, which can diminish their importance and result in misinformed decisions regarding the competing uses of freshwater resources,” said David ‘Bo’ Bunnell, a USGS scientist and an author of the study.

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