The U.S. throws 2 billions pounds of fish back in the ocean a year

American fisheries are throwing about 2 billion pounds of fish back in the ocean a year — and a lot of it is edible (even delicious) fish that is already dead or dying, or marine life not intended to be caught for food, including sharks, seals and dolphins.

The report comes from Oceana, who used data collected by the National Marine Fisheries Service to arrive at the total. Food waste is a big problem in the U.S, with an estimated 141 trillion calories going to waste (about 1/3 of the total produced) a year. But unlike that figure, none of this food loss is attributable to either consumer waste, manufacturing loss, or spoilage.

So what's the problem?

The problem is bycatch — what happens when a fishing trawl pulls in either an edible fish they weren't looking for (a cod fisherman who pulls in a school of halibut, for instance) or pulls in other marine life (sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, even birds sometimes) along with the fish they were targeting.

But the problem isn't equally distributed among the fishing industry, the report says, it's concentrated among just a handful of fisheries. Almost half of the wasted fish are thrown out by fisheries who produce just 7% of the total market.

Image: White sea bass at a Fish market in Baja / Tomascastelazo