New data on reported and unreported marine catches now available online
Researchers with UBC's Sea Around Us project have launched a new web platform at www.seaaroundus.org that provides the first comprehensive coverage of both reported and unreported fish caught by every country in the world.
It reveals that official catch reports considerably underestimate actual catches around the world. For example, researchers found there was considerable unreported foreign fishing between 1950 and the early 1970s on Canada's East coast. In fact, more than half of fish caught were unreported at one point. Much of this 'catch' consisted of so-called discards.
UBC professor Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller plan to publish a global estimate of fisheries catch in a peer-reviewed paper.
"The new Sea Around Us data have significant global scope and are long awaited by many groups worldwide," said Zeller, senior researcher and project manager for Sea Around Us. "Accurate estimates are important for policy makers and fisheries managers to make economical and sustainable decisions about our fishing policies and fisheries management."
The new data combines estimates of unreported catches—determined through extensive literature searches, consultation with local experts, and calculation of discarded fish—with officially reported data for small and large-scale fisheries for every country. The data emerged from a decade-long catch reconstruction project.
"We know these data will have major global impacts and now they are accessible in a visual, simplified and comprehensive way," Pauly said.
Accurate catch data provide important insights into fisheries, fish populations and underlying ecosystems, and such data can have economic impacts.
The Sea Around Us is currently funded by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This is the first time the project has released new data in over five years. It can be accessed at seaaroundus.org