2019 was the worst year on record for Belgian fisheries, La Dernière Heure reported on Sunday.
Only 13,659 tonnes of fish were caught by Belgian boats in 2019, which is 7.5% less than in 2018, the previous worst year on record, according to La Dernière Heure. That year, 14,766 tonnes of fish and shellfish were caught at sea by Belgian trawlers. In its most prolific year, 1955, the sector caught 69,500 tonnes.
Several criteria can explain the sector’s drop in productivity, La Dernière Heure said, with the main reason being the overfishing recorded in recent years. As a result, marine fish are becoming increasingly rare.
In 2015, one fish species out of three was considered threatened and six species out of ten were exploited at their maximum renewal capacity. In the North Sea, this is reflected in a population of 40,000 fish per square kilometre, while the density of fish was still 200,000 units per square kilometre some 20 years ago.
Plaice was the fish most caught by Belgian sailors, with 3,629 tonnes brought in. They are ahead of sole (2,041 tonnes) and skate (1,253 tonnes). As for crustaceans and molluscs, cuttlefish were the most frequently caught (1100 tonnes), before shrimp (509 tonnes) and miscellaneous shellfish (290 tonnes).