The Monitor Daily (U.S.) – Do we really know the true extent of the global fish catch? As per the findings of an extensive study spanning ten years of research, official data isn’t necessarily the most accurate data. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) provides periodic in-depth reports on the global fish catch.
Data is often broke down on nations and is also self-reported by governments or governmental agencies from these nations. However, FAO figures and UN figures generally fail to account for the impact that illegal fishing, small-scale fishing or sport fishing have on the global fish catch.
The extensive study published in the Nature Communications journal and spanning ten years of research has found the flaw in FAO figures. Localized research involving over 400 scientists involved in the process has surfaced dramatically different numbers as to the global fish catch. The results indicate that the global fish catch is in fact decreasing three times more rapidly than suggested by FAO figures.
In other words, approximately 30 percent of the global fish catch goes unreported yearly. Fish is the main food source for over 2.5 billion people globally. As so many communities depend on this resource for survival, over-exploitation proves to be a critical issue. As such, accurate and relevant numbers allowing for timely responses should be readily available.
However, the UN lacks the coercive power to require governments more observant reports. Do we really know the true extent of the global fish catch? The study attempted an answer to this question. While the results remain under the premise of uncertainty, they are far more revealing than official FAO figures. The strength of the study is the extensive timeframe and the emphasis it places on illegal fishing, small-scale fishing and sport fishing.
As per the findings of the study, the annual global fish catch between 1950 and 2010 was far larger than the official figures indicate. However, after 1996, the global fish catch also decreased at a faster pace than that suggested by UN figures.
The peak was reached in 1996 with 86m tonnes. Following the peak year, the global fish catch decreased by approximately 0.4m tonnes annually. These are official FAO figures. The study found that in 1996 the global fish catch reached its peak indeed, but with 130m tonnes. Following this period, the decline was consistent with 1.2m tonnes annually.
According to Professor Daniel Pauly with the University of British Columbia (Canada), and lead author of the study, the results are very different from those of the FAO reports. Moreover, they suggest that the decline of the global fish catch wasn’t due to nations fishing less. Quite to the contrary, the decline was due to fisheries being exhausted in an unsustainable manner.
Do we really know the true extent of the global fish catch? And how should we calculate it?The task of the scientists involved in the study was been daunting. Estimating illegal fishing, small-scale fishing or sport fishing numbers is fairly difficult. However, a swath of data over a ten year timeframe led to these conclusions.
Not all regions of the world have a bleak perspective from this point of view. Overexploitation of fisheries is indeed a problem in many stated dependant on fish stocks and not only. Nonetheless, other fisheries are managed sustainably.
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