Seafood Is a Dwindling Resource and We're Wasting Half of It

Between fisherman, retail losses, and consumer waste, 2.3 billion pounds of edible seafood rots. 


Here’s what you call a paradox: Americans are crazy for protein. Advertise “protein” on anything from a bottle of water to a box of cereal and you’re guaranteed sales. But we’re also trashing about half our edible seafood supply uneaten every year, even though that’s enough protein to meet the requirements of about 10 million people. Would a new label help?

Our annual seafood dump was revealed courtesy of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future publishing its findings in the November issue of Global Environmental Change. That’s especially wasteful considering how climate change, overfishing, and habitat destruction has threatened the global seafood supply.

Of the 4.7 billion pounds of domestic and imported seafood netted annually, 573 million pounds are lost because:

  • Commercial fishers realize they’ve caught the wrong species and discard it
  • 330 million pounds are lost in the distribution and retail chain
  • 2.3 million is scraped right off the collective plate into the landfills.

“If we’re told to eat significantly more seafood but the supply is severely threatened, it is critical and urgent to reduce waste of seafood,” study leader David Love told Phys.

Just last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency announced an initiative to cut food waste in half by 2030. Maybe they could could start by looking to the sea.

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