Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Fishes are obviously of enormous economic import to humans. Primarily, humans consume fish through fishing and aquaculture, and fish are an essential form of protein for millions of people around the world. The farmed salmon industry alone is valued at over 2 billion dollars a year, but unfortunately, aquaculture operations can have serious ecological consequences. Similarly, ray-finned fishes are quite popular in the aquarium trade, and those with high cash value, such as many tropical fishes, are removed in highly damaging (i.e. using poisons) and exploitive ways (see Conservation and Other Comments). Televised sport fishing events are also popular on rivers, lakes, coastal areas and reefs around the world. The fast-growing scuba industry relies heavily on thriving coral reefs with diverse and abundant communities of ray-finned fishes. Finally, of less direct (and severely underappreciated) economic importance are the ecological roles that fishes fill, like controlling insect populations (e.g. many still-water groups like gouramies) and ensuring healthy-functioning aquatic systems, which helps to ensure clean water and reduces the spread of disease.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; source of medicine or drug ; research and education; produces fertilizer; controls pest population
- Almeda-Villela, P. 1998. Endangered Species. Pp. 48-53 in J Paxton, W Eschmeyer, eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.