The maps based on feedback from more than 70,000 vessels show commercial fishing covers a greater surface area than agriculture, and will raise fresh questions about the health of oceans and sustainability of trawler fishing.
The data, published in the journal Science, also shows how fishing declines sharply at weekends, and celebrations like Christmas and Chinese new year.
The data also helps to explain the extreme decline in some fish stocks: the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says one-third of commercial fish stocks are being caught at unsustainable levels.
But the clear impact of cultural and political events on fishing also offers hope that humans can restrain overfishing, said the report’s author, David Kroodsma.
“What that means is we have control as humans to decide how we’re fishing the oceans: we’re not destined to overfish, we can control it,” said Kroodsma.
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