UK fish consumption in 2012 has already matched what our seas can supply for the year, leaving us reliant on imported cod and haddock for fish and chips, campaigners have warned.
Annual fish supplies from our seas can only satisfy demand for 233 days, so if the UK were to rely on its own fisheries for the year we would run out of stocks by Tuesday, a report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) calculated.
At least one in three fish consumed here is imported from outside the EU, the thinktank said, with the UK reliant on countries such as Iceland, Norway and even China for a large share of traditional British fish, such as cod and haddock.
The situation has improved since last year, when the UK effectively ran out of fish more than a month earlier than in 2012, but is largely unchanged over the past decade.
But if the UK's seas were better managed to allow fish stocks to recover from overfishing, it could meet annual demand from its own waters and even be a net exporter of fish, NEF suggested.
The UK imports more than 101,000 tonnes of cod, worth £372 million, and 60,000 tonnes of haddock, worth £156 million, in a year, the majority of which comes from outside the EU, according to figures from 2010.
Rupert Crilly, of the NEF, said the UK had access to productive fishing grounds and had moderate levels of consumption compared to some other European countries such as Spain and Portugal.
"It could produce as much as it needs but instead it is a net importer of fish. Consumers understand that we import tuna which is virtually non-existent in its waters; but they will wonder why we need to import cod and haddock from China when our cod and haddock stocks could deliver five and three times more catches with better management," he said.
Campaigners are calling for ambitious reform of the European Union's common fisheries policy, which governs the fishing activities of the EU fleet, to ensure fisheries are more sustainably managed to prevent overfishing.
An Environment Department spokeswoman said: "Overfishing has been a central failing of the current Common Fisheries Policy and the UK is adamant that the new CFP, which is currently under negotiation in Brussels, must ensure catches are set at a level that is sustainable. We will not be able to rebuild fish stocks without getting this right."