Over the course of the 20th century, fossil fuels became the dominant energy input to most of the world's fisheries. Although various analyses have quantified fuel inputs to individual fisheries, to date, no attempt has been made to quantify the global scale and to map the distribution of fuel consumed by fisheries. By integrating data representing more than 250 fisheries from around the world with spatially resolved catch statistics for 2000, we calculate that globally, fisheries burned almost 50 billion L of fuel in the process of landing just over 80 million t of marine fish and invertebrates for an average rate of 620 L t−1. Consequently, fisheries account for about 1.2% of global oil consumption, an amount equivalent to that burned by the Netherlands, the 18th-ranked oil consuming country globally, and directly emit more than 130 million t of CO2 into the atmosphere. From an efficiency perspective, the energy content of the fuel burned by global fisheries is 12.5 times greater than the edible-protein energy content of the resulting catch.
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