30 Percent of Global Catch Goes Unreported

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have
released a study in the online open access journal Nature Communications (www.nature.com) estimating
that the number of fish caught globally is drastically underreported.
The estimate by researchers in UBC’s Sea Around Us research
initiative puts the annual global catch at roughly 109 million metric tons,
about 30 percent higher than the 77 million officially reported in 2010 by more
than 200 countries and territories.
Researchers attribute the discrepancy to most countries
focusing their data collection efforts on industrial fishing and largely
excluding the more difficult to track artisanal, subsistence and illegal
fishing, as well as discarded fish.
UBC professor Daniel Pauly, a lead author of the study, said
better estimating the amount of fish actually caught would help ensure there is
enough fish to sustain us in the future.
Accurate catch data is critical for fisheries managers
trying to understand the health of fish populations and inform fishing policies
such as catch quotas and restrictions.
Pauly and his colleagues around the world reviewed catch and
related data using a method called catch reconstruction. They compared official
data submitted to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization with estimates from
a broad range of sources, including academic literature, industrial fishing
statistics, local fisheries experts, and fisheries law enforcement.
Joshua Reicher, executive vice president and head of
environmental initiatives for The Pew Charitable Trusts, a supporter of this research,
said the study confirms that far more fish are being taken from the oceans than
official data suggests. It is no longer acceptable, Reicher said, to mark down
artisanal, subsistence or bycatch catch data as a zero in the official record

A copy of the paper is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10244