Industrial fishing is starving seabird populations worldwide


The intensification of industrial fishing leads to food competition with seabirds around the planet, and threatens the world seabird community. For the first time, researchers from CNRS1, the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and the University of British Columbia (Canada) have mapped the competition between industrial fishing and seabirds worldwide between 1970 and 2010. Their study reveals that the average annual food intake of seabirds fell from 70 to 57 million tonnes between 1970-1989 and 1990-2010, while the average annual fishery catch of potential seabird food increased from 59 to 65 million tonnes during the same period. Despite the sharp decline of the global seabird community during the period 1970-2010, the competitive pressure exerted by fisheries remains strong. Seabird-fishery competition has even increased in almost half of the world’s oceans. The study appears in the December 6, 2018 edition of Current Biology.

fulmar boréal au dessus de l'eau
A Northern fulmar crossing the Barents Sea under the midnight sun, near Franz Josef Land (Russian Arctic).
© David Grémillet
un fou du cap et son petit
A Cape gannet and its chick in South Africa.
© David Grémillet
graphique montrant les résultats
Chart illustrating the decline in the world seabird community and the global intensification of industrial fishing targeting potential seabird food.
© Current Biology/Elsevier


  • 1. The CEFE - Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CNRS/Université de Montpellier/Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier/EPHE)

Persisting worldwide seabird-fishery competition despite seabird community decline. David Grémillet, Aurore Ponchon, Michelle Paleczny, Maria-Lourdes D. Palomares, Vasiliki Karpouzi, Daniel Pauly. December 6, 2018 Current Biology.


David Grémillet
CNRS researcher
Julie Desriac
Press officer