Employment and consumption trends
Some 1,200 different aquatic animal species of commercial interest are found in Mediterranean waters.
As a result, an extremely wide range of gear is used to catch them: trawls, seines, harpoons, gillnets, lines, hooks, pots and traps -- frequently very similar equipment that was being used hundreds of years ago.
Indeed, fishing on the Mediterranean nowadays remains largely unindustrialized and looks much as it did in the past.
However that is now changing, as ageing fisherfolk are being replaced not by a new generation of small-scale fishers, but by larger commercial interests.
Still, about 300 000 people continue to earn their living directly from full-time fishing, while 900 000 others are employed in related services and industries, and the fishing sector earns Mediterranean countries about US$3.8 billion a year.
High levels of seafood consumption
Consumption of fish in the region is high, compared to the global average of 16.2 kg/per capita per year, especially on the sea's northern coast -- from 20 kg/pc in Italy, France and Greece to 40 kg/pc in Spain.
Interestingly, Mediterranean fisheries are only able to provide around 6.25 kg of that total consumption, with the rest being met through imports, despite a general consumer preference in the region for fresh, local products.
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