Major fish stocks around the world could collapse within decades due to global warming, pollution and overfishing, United Nations officials said last week.

"You overlay all of this and you are potentially putting a death nail in the coffin of the world fisheries," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, said at a news conference in Monaco.

In a report released on Friday, new research shows rising ocean surface temperatures and other climate changes are disrupting an undersea "mechanism" that helps renew fish stocks in three quarters of the world's primary commercial fishing grounds. The report says more than 2.6 billion people get most of their protein from fish.

"If this mechanism stops, we may risk a collapse in major fishing grounds" in the coming few decades, said report author Christian Nellemann. "We are seeing shifts in marine life that we have never observed before."

Nellemann added that fisheries could recover if carbon emissions and shipping pollution are curbed, and if overfishing and damaging fishing practices such as bottom trawling are stopped.


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