Ninety percent of the world’s largest and most economically important fish have disappeared due to a half-century of industrial fishing, according to a groundbreaking study published in today’s issue of the journal Nature. The study found that modern fishing has become so efficient that it can decimate 80 percent or more of a given species in just 15 years; the species currently affected include cod, halibut, tuna, swordfish, and marlin. One of the primary culprits is longline fishing, where a single boat can trail a line up to 60 miles long and covered in thousands of hooks. Ransom Myers, coauthor of the study, said that continuing today’s fishing practices will lead to economic disruption, food shortages in developing nations that rely on seafood as a dietary staple, and long-term damage to the marine environment.

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