Fish and shellfish provide an important source of protein for much of the world's population and yet the increasing human population and the increasing pollution of productive coastal waters are, in combination, intensifying the pressures on the world's remaining fishery resources, thereby raising the likelihood of overexploitation and resource failure. Inefficient management of marine fisheries results in a lower fisheries food supply and a failure to protect the fisheries against depletion.
World marine fisheries landings increased during the 1970s, but in 1980 they were 15 to 20 million tonnes less than they would have been had management been more competent. There were noticeable shifts in the distribution of the world fish catch. Between 1970 and 1976, the total catch of the developed countries grew at 2.5% a year, but that of developing countries actually declined by an average of 1.4% a year. Much of the drop was due to the collapse of the anchovy fishery in the southeast Pacific. But between 1977 and 1981 the roles were reversed. The catch of developing countries grew at 3.1% a year, while that of the developed countries expanded by only 0.6% a year. Western Europe's catch fell by 1.6% a year. FAO estimated the 1988 world fish catch at 94 million tonnes, based on preliminary data, 2 million tonnes more than in 1986 and 1987.