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Birds even feed plastic bits to their young, killing their fledglings en masse.In the end, large-scale actions to help seabirds could also go a long way in cleaning-up our increasingly trashed marine ecosystems."The fact that we catch far more than we thought is, if you like, a more positive thing," he said.
A more exhaustive study, taking over a decade shows that the annual catches between 19 were much bigger than thought, but that the decline after the peak year of 1996 was much faster than official figures.
But after 1996, few undiscovered fisheries were left and catches started to decline.
The decline since 1996 has largely been in fish caught by industrial fleets and to a lesser extent a cut in the number of unwanted fish discarded at sea.
The new research estimates the peak catch was 130 million tons, but declined at 1.2 million tons per year afterwards.
Prof Daniel Pauly, at the University of British Columbia in Canada and who led the work, said the decline is very strong and "is due to countries having fished too much and having exhausted one fishery after another." Prof Boris Worm, at Dalhousie University in Canada and not involved in the new research said.
"This was a Herculean task that no one else has ever attempted.