Harvests from freshwater fisheries such as the Great Lakes could total more than 12 million tons a year globally and contribute more to global food supplies and economies than previous estimates indicate, according to a study published by Michigan State University and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Freshwater ecosystems across the planet provide valuable services, such as drinking water, hydropower, irrigation for agriculture and economically important recreation and tourism. The USGS, Michigan State University and partners estimated the 2011 fish harvest from over 246,000 lakes worldwide. They found that the harvest was 18.5 billion pounds, or the weight of more than a million large African elephants.
These lakes accounted for about 50 percent of the global freshwater lake area. Because the study did not assess the inland fishery harvest from rivers, wetlands and very small lakes, the true total global freshwater fish harvest in 2011 likely exceeded the 12 million tons reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO.