There are three distinct groups of fish that ichthyologists study: bony fish, cartilaginous fish, and jawless fish. Ichthyology has a long history that began with simple observations and descriptions of fish over 200 years. The first known recorded observations of fish were documented by Pierre Belon in the 1500’s. In the early 1700’s, Peter Artedi’s, who some consider to be the Father of Ichthyology, had his work chthyologia” posthumously published by Karl Linnaeus. At that time, Artedi recognized 230 species of fish. Today, we recognize approximately 31,900 species. There are approximately 31,900 species of known fish according to FishBase, a website that provides data about all known fish. FishBase is run by a consortium that is made up of an international group of organizations, universities, and museums from countries around the world: Greece, China, Canada, Italy, Germany,
France, Belgium, Sweden, and Malaysia. Additional ichthyologic research is conducted through various universities and institutions around the world that continue to add to the body of knowledge about fish. This knowledge plays an important role in the future of one of the largest ecosystems in the world: the ocean.

Fish is a significant source of protein for millions of people in the world. Human population growth has placed a significant demand on fish as a food source. It is estimated that approximately 25 percent of all protein consumed by people comes from fish. For some developing nations fish provides a large percentage of protein for its own people as well as a source of income as an export product. Fish research has become an increasingly important study as fish populations decline throughout the world. The decline of fish has an immense impact on ocean ecosystems as well as a significant impact on one of the primary food sources for people around the world. Overfishing in the past 50 years has significantly reduced fish populations across a large number of species. Research in ichthyology helps policy makers determine what course of action to take in order to maintain fish populations throughout the world. National and international policies are determined based on the data provided by fish research.
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