US consumers throw out or otherwise waste 1.3 billion pounds of edible seafood every year—that's more than a quarter of the country's annual supply, according to a press release from John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Those numbers come from a new study published in Global Environmental Change that found up to 47% of the US' edible seafood supply goes uneaten every year. Some of that is the fault of fishermen catching the wrong species or product lost during distribution and retail. But the majority of the waste—51% to 63%—is squarely the fault of consumers. The 2.3 billion pounds of edible seafood that goes uneaten is enough protein to sustain more than 10 million people for a year.
The findings are especially important now, with experts encouraging US residents to eat more seafood in lieu of chicken, beef, or other meats, according to the researchers. Unfortunately, a number of factors—including overfishing and climate change—are destroying the world's seafood supply. "If we're told to eat significantly more seafood but the supply is severely threatened, it is critical and urgent to reduce waste of seafood," the study leader says in the press release. Researchers suggest packaging seafood in smaller portions or encouraging consumers to buy frozen seafood. Time reports the new study fits with the federal government's plan—announced last week—to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. “Let's feed people, not landfills,” the EPA said at the time.