Why we’ve been hugely underestimating the overfishing of the oceans

Date: January 19, 2016

Source: The Washington Post

Author: Chelsea Harvey

The state of the world’s fish stocks may be in worse shape than official reports indicate, according to new data — a possibility with worrying consequences for both international food security and marine ecosystems. 

In this April 27, 2011 photo, Atlantic bluefin tuna are corralled by fishing nets during the opening of the season for tuna fishing off the coast of Barbate, Cadiz province, southern Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that the national data many countries have submitted to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has not always accurately reflected the amount of fish actually caught over the past six decades. And the paper indicates that global fishing practices may have been even less sustainable over the past few decades than scientists previously thought.

The FAO’s official data report that global marine fisheries catches peaked in 1996 at 86 million metric tons and have since slightly declined. But a collaborative effort from more than 50 institutions around the world has produced data that tell a different story altogether. The new data suggest that global catches actually peaked at 130 metric tons in 1996 and have declined sharply — on average, by about 1.2 million metric tons every year — ever since.

The effort was led by researchers Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller of the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us project. The two were interested investigating the extent to which data submitted to the FAO was misrepresented or underreported.


For more, go to: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/01/19/why-weve-been-hugely-underestimating-the-overfishing-of-the-oceans/?postshare=7881453614498474&tid=ss_tw-bottom