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'WE are risking another disaster," says Eduardo Loayaza, fisheries advisor with the World Bank's Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. "There are too many fishing boats chasing too few fish. It's like deforestation but it's invisible because it's happening under water." Who is to blame? The fishermen, who have been described as "the last race of hunter-gatherers, out to snatch what they can, while they can"? Governments? International organizations, which seem unable to enforce regulations drawn up after tough negotiations? Or technological progress that makes fishing boats and equipment increasingly efficient?
A LIMITED RESOURCE
On one point everyone is agreed: the seas are emptying. Once they were very full. There are more than 20,000 species of marine mammals grouped into 350 families. Some fish, such as cod, mackerel, sardine and tuna, are migrators. Others such as salmon and eel divide their lives between sea water and fresh water. Others still, such as grey mullet, red mullet, sole and skate, live near coasts. Four-fifths of the earth's animal life lives in the seas and oceans, which provide the world's population with an average of 4% of its food. In Asia alone more than a billion people depend on fish and seafood as their major source of animal protein, while …