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Fishing capacity: global trends
Between 1970 and 1980 the total number of decked fishing vessels worldwide increased from 600 000 to 800 000.

By 1990, that number had grown by 400 000 boats, to 1.2 million.

However, by 1998 only 100 000 more boats had been added to the list.

That year, slightly more than 1%, or 19 992 vessels, of the decked fleet were large ships weighing more than 100 gross tonnes and measuring longer than 24 metres in length, according to Lloyd's Register, an international shipping registry.

Tracking this fleet of larger ships is helpful in understanding capacity, as they account for a significant portion of total fish landings.

According to FAO analysis, the number of new boats of this size being built -- which increased from 500/yr in the 1950s to more than 2 500/yr in the 1980s -- is now down on average to 300 a year.

Despite these additions, reductions due to scrapping and loss mean that since 1992 the size of this fleet has stabilized, and that the vessels are ageing, FAO reports.

But measuring the extent to which new technologies and other improvements in efficiency have offset these trends remains difficult, adds the Organization.

Regionally, the countries of North America, Europe and the Southwest Pacific have the most national fishing boats operating outside their own national waters.

Africa and the Southwest Pacific are the regions with the greatest number of countries granting access to foreign flagged fishing vessels.

Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Norway, Peru, Philippines, the Russian Federation, Taiwan Province of China, Thailand, the United States and Viet Nam accounted for over 80% of the world's total marine catch in 2002.
Focus on the issues title graphic/FAO

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George Kourous
Information Officer, FAo
(+39) 06 570 53168

FAO/17417/H Wagner

Overall, the size and tonnage of the global fishing fleet appears to be stabilizing.

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