- ''For the fishing industry and the practice of fishing, see fishing.
A fishery is an area with an associated fish or aquatic population which is harvested for its value (commercial, recreational, subsistence). It can be saltwater or freshwater, wild or farmed. Examples are the salmon fishery of Alaska, the cod fishery off the Lofoten islands or the tuna fishery of the Eastern Pacific.
Most fisheries are marine, rather than freshwater; most marine fisheries are based near the coast. This is not only because harvesting from relatively shallow waters is easier than in the open ocean, but also because fish are much more abundant near the coastal shelf, due to coastal upwelling and the abundance of nutrients available there. However, productive wild fisheries also exist in open oceans, particularly by seamounts, and inland in lakes and rivers.
Most fisheries are wild fisheries, but increasingly fisheries are farmed. Farming can occur in coastal areas, such as with oyster farms, but more typically occur inland, in lakes, ponds, tanks and other enclosures.
The term "fish"
The term "fish" is most strictly used to describe any animal with a backbone
that has gills
throughout life and has limbs, if any, in the shape of fins
. Many types of aquatic animals
commonly referred to as "fish" are not fish in this strict sense
; examples include shellfish
. In earlier times, even biologists did not make a distinction - sixteenth century natural historians classified also seals
, even hippopotamuses
, as well as a host of aquatic invertebrates, as fish. These days true fish are sometimes referred to as finfish
or fin fish
to distinguish them from other aquatic life harvested in fisheries or aquaculture.
There are fisheries worldwide for finfish, mollusks
, and by extension, aquatic plants
such as kelp
. However, a very small number of species support the majority of the world’s fisheries. Some of these species are herring
. All except these last four provided a worldwide catch of well over a million tonnes
in 1999, with herring
together providing a harvest of over 22 million metric tons in 1999. Many other species as well are harvested in smaller numbers.