Fish stocks used for food could be wiped out in 40 years if overfishing continues, according to a report published in the American journal Science. The research, which analysed world fisheries over four years, found that stocks are declining so rapidly that by 2048 the impact would be irreversible. The scientists’ report criticised the fact that although EU member states have catch limits other countries do not, meaning that overfishing is only controlled in less than 1% of the world’s ocean surface. Ben Bradshaw, the UK fisheries minister, responded to the report by acknowledging that the warning represented the biggest global environment challenge after global warming. Despite this, Bradsaw said: “If there were to be a zero catch for cod, we would have to close almost all of the UK fishing industry because there is almost no part of our fishing industry that doesn’t catch some cod as by-catch.” The research found that the acceleration of the problem is in part due to pollution and global warming, as well as destructive fishing methods such as bottom trawling, whereby large nets are dragged along the seabed destroying marine plants and fish with no commercial value as well. The European Union is set to discuss the issue of bottom trawling next week, followed by a United Nations debate on fishing at the end of November. The report also revealed that in areas where fishing was restricted, fisheries could recover within three to five years.