How sustainable is tuna? New global catch database exposes dangerous fishing trends

How sustainable is tuna? New global catch database exposes dangerous fishing trends

How sustainable is tuna? New global catch database exposes dangerous fishing trends

Tuna at the Tsukiji fish market in Japan. Photo by Humanoid one, Wikimedia Commons.

Appearing in everything from sushi rolls to sandwiches, tuna are among the world’s favourite fish. But are our current tuna fishing habits sustainable?

Probably not, according to a new global database of tuna catches created by researchers at the University of British Columbia and University of Western Australia.

In a study published in Fisheries Research, scientists from the Sea Around Us initiative found that global tuna catches have increased over 1,000 per cent in the past six decades, fueled by a massive expansion of industrial fisheries.

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New technology allows fleets to double fishing capacity -- and deplete fish stocks faster

New technology allows fleets to double fishing capacity — and deplete fish stocks faster

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Technological advances are allowing commercial fishing fleets to double their fishing power every 35 years and put even more pressure on dwindling fish stocks, new research has found.

Researchers from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia analyzed more than 50 studies related to the increase in vessels’ catching power and found that the introduction of mechanisms such as GPS, fishfinders, echo-sounders or acoustic cameras, has led to an average two per cent yearly increase in boats’ capacity to capture fish.

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Artisanal catch. Photo by Australa's Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Fisheries Department of Western Australia and Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean conduct data-limited workshop

Artisanal catch. Photo by Australa's Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Artisanal catch. Photo by Australia’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

On September 4, 2019, the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean research initiative at the University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development organized a data-limited stock assessment workshop for fisheries researchers and managers of the local state government.

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Spangeled emperor. Photo by Vincent C Chen, Wikimedia Commons.

PhD opportunities at the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean

Spangeled emperor. Photo by Vincent C Chen, Wikimedia Commons.</a)

Spangeled emperor. Photo by Vincent C Chen, Wikimedia Commons.

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean under the leadership of Professor Dirk Zeller at the University of Western Australia is looking for highly qualified Australian PhD candidates interested in conducting ‘big-data’ and meta-analysis research on fisheries and fisheries conservation issues at the ocean-basin scale. Interested? Then consider applying for a PhD Scholarship at the University of Western Australia in Perth. For details, see this link.

Applications for the domestic (Australian) Scholarship Round are open from 1 September to Thursday 31 October 2019. This round is only for domestic (Australian) graduates who can enroll in the first half of 2020.

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Clockwise from top left: Matthew Ansell, MSc student;  James Hehre, Associate & Programme Manager – Marine Futures Lab; Dirk Zeller, Director Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean; Jessica Meeuwig, Director Marine Futures Lab;  Gabriel Vianna, Postdoctoral Fellow; Rachel White, Researcher; Hanna Jabour Christ, Associate & Communications and Data Manager – Marine Futures Lab; Lincoln Hood, Senior Researcher; Amy McAlpine MSc Student.

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean is growing!

Clockwise from top left: Matthew Ansell, MSc student; James Hehre, Associate & Programme Manager – Marine Futures Lab; Dirk Zeller, Director Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean; Jessica Meeuwig, Director Marine Futures Lab; Gabriel Vianna, Postdoctoral Fellow; Rachel White, Researcher; Hanna Jabour Christ, Associate & Communications and Data Manager – Marine Futures Lab; Lincoln Hood, Senior Researcher; Amy McAlpine MSc Student.

Clockwise from top left: Matthew Ansell, MSc student; James Hehre, Associate & Programme Manager – Marine Futures Lab; Dirk Zeller, Director Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean; Jessica Meeuwig, Director Marine Futures Lab; Gabriel Vianna, Postdoctoral Fellow; Rachel White, Researcher; Hanna Jabour Christ, Associate & Communications and Data Manager – Marine Futures Lab; Lincoln Hood, Senior Researcher; Amy McAlpine MSc Student.

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean, founded in 2017 at the University of Western Australia and led by Dr. Dirk Zeller, is starting to grow.

A while back, former members of the Sea Around Us at UBC, Lincoln Hood and Rachel White, followed a tern flock and moved southwards to work with Dr. Zeller on establishing the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean, and to initiate the newest round of updated and improved catch reconstruction database for all maritime countries around the Indian Ocean.

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Daniel Pauly at the XV Congress of Colombian Ichthyologists.

Daniel Pauly presents the GOLT at Colombian ichthyology congress

Daniel Pauly at the XV Congress of Colombian Ichthyologists.

Daniel Pauly at the XV Congress of Colombian Ichthyologists.

In July 2019, the Sea Around Us Principal Investigator, Dr. Daniel Pauly, visited northern Colombia to attend the XV Congress of Colombian Ichthyologists and the VI Meeting of South American Ichthyologists, held at the Research Centre of the Antioquia University in Medellín.

Dr. Pauly was the keynote speaker on the first day of the three-day event. He presented a lecture titled ‘Fish must breathe: outline of the Gill-oxygen Limitation Theory (GOLT).’

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Blacklip Butterflyfish. Photo by zsispeo, Flickr.

Fish that follow ‘gourmet diet’ more threatened by climate change

Blacklip Butterflyfish. Photo by zsispeo, Flickr.

Blacklip Butterflyfish. Photo by zsispeo, Flickr.

Fish that follow a ‘gourmet diet’ may be more threatened by climate change and other environmental variations than those that are not picky eaters, new research from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, the University of New Brunswick, and the Fisheries Department at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found.

In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers found that in the more biodiverse areas of the world’s oceans like the tropics, where there are also a diverse number of habitats and environments, fishes tend to be selective about what and where they eat, choosing areas and foods that match their feeding skills and the place they occupy in the food chain.

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Caesio teres. Photo by Nick Hobgood, Wikimedia Commons.

Want to make a large-scale difference in marine conservation and fisheries? Study with the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean

Caesio teres. Photo by Nick Hobgood, Wikimedia Commons.

Caesio teres. Photo by Nick Hobgood, Wikimedia Commons.

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean under the leadership of Professor Dirk Zeller at the University of Western Australia is looking for highly qualified PhD candidates interested in conducting ‘big-data’ and meta-analysis research on fisheries and fisheries conservation issues at the ocean-basin scale.

If this is of interest to you, then consider applying here www.scholarships.uwa.edu.au/futurestudents/postgrad.

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Instructors and participants at the CMSY workshop in Qingdao.

Sea Around Us co-hosts successful CMSY workshop in Qingdao

Instructors and participants at the CMSY workshop in Qingdao.

Instructors and participants at the CMSY workshop in Qingdao.

In June 2019, the Sea Around Us PI, Dr. Daniel Pauly, and Project Manager, Dr. Deng Palomares, co-hosted a successful, three-day workshop at the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) in Qingdao, a city on China’s Yellow Sea coast. They were assisted by graduate student Lu Zhai and long-time Sea Around Us collaborator Dr. Liang ‘Elsa’ Cui.

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the sea around us turns 20

Sea Around Us celebrated 20 years with successful symposium

After months of planning, on June 27-28 the Sea Around Us celebrated its 20th anniversary with a couple of successful events that strengthened the group’s relationship with researchers and civil society.

On June 27, 2019, the team hosted an informal reception that gathered students, staff, alumni, researchers from around the globe, representatives from the French consulate in Vancouver, colleagues from UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF), delegates from different departments at the University of British Columbia, among other attendees.

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DP bio cover

Daniel Pauly’s biography hits the bookstores

DP bio cover

Un Océan de Combats is the title of the book that recounts the life of the Sea Around Us Principal Investigator, Dr. Daniel Pauly.

The text, brilliantly written by oceanographer David Grémillet over the course of two years and after doing dozens of interviews over four continents, presents the extraordinary life story of a child born just after the Second World War to a working-class Frenchwoman and an African American GI– Daniel Pauly’s trajectory defies every expectation.

Un Océan de Combats brings to the forefront a scientist’s life-long struggle over the course of his extraordinary career to determine the magnitude and significance of overfishing.

The first accessible account of overfishing as a global issue, both for society and for the planet, this book draws the inevitable connection between the environmental crisis and the political and social inequality between the global North and the global South.

DP's bio

“An iconoclastic fisheries scientist who is so decidedly global in his life and outlook that he is nearly a man without a country.” THE NEW YORK TIMES

“Never afraid to ruffle feathers, Pauly is outspoken about ocean conservation and willing to point fingers at the huge multinational companies that control much of the world’s fishing industry.” NATURE

“Pauly’s insights into global fisheries provide an understanding of the root causes of our unsustainable ocean fishery and are an essential guide to sustain this vital resource.” DAVID SUZUKI

Fish at the Cholula market. Photo by Giulian Frisoni, Flickr.

World Oceans Day: Paying attention to marine fisheries

World Oceans Day happens to fall on the same month as the Sea Around Us’ anniversary month.

Initially proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008, this day celebrates the ocean and its importance for all living creatures.

World Oceans Day provides also an opportunity for researchers, policymakers, and environmentalists to highlight the most urgent issues affecting the planet’s largest waterbody.

Since this June the Sea Around Us is celebrating not only World Oceans Day but also its 20th Anniversary, it seemed appropriate to reflect on the importance of paying attention to marine fisheries.

Blue shark (Prionace glauca). Photo by Mark Conlin-NMFS, Wikimedia Commons.

Hidden behind bad numbers: Official stats mask almost all shark and ray species caught in the Mediterranean and Black seas

Blue shark (Prionace glauca). Photo by Mark Conlin-NMFS, Wikimedia Commons.

Blue shark (Prionace glauca). Photo by Mark Conlin-NMFS, Wikimedia Commons.

Shark and ray species commonly caught in the Mediterranean and Black seas are not being reported in official statistics, new research from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia shows.

A new study published in Marine Policy reveals that 97 per cent of the sharks and rays caught and brought to market domestically by fleets from the European, North African and Middle Eastern countries that surround these seas are not reported by species.

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Fisher, Solomon Islands. Photo by Jan van der Ploeg, WorldFish, Flickr.

The importance of coastal fisheries

Fisher, Solomon Islands. Photo by Jan van der Ploeg, WorldFish, Flickr.

Fisher, Solomon Islands. Photo by Jan van der Ploeg, WorldFish, Flickr.

The Sea Around Us’ Deng Palomares and Daniel Pauly have just added a new item to their long list of publications: a chapter in Elsevier’s book Coast and Estuaries: The Future.

In their contribution, titled “Coastal fisheries: the past, present and possible futures,” Palomares and Pauly highlight the importance of coastal fisheries by pointing out that they made up 55 per cent of global marine fisheries catch from 2010 to 2014.

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Pellizar 133. Photo by O roxo Flickr.

Carbon dioxide emissions from global fisheries larger than previously thought

Pellizar 133. Photo by O roxo Flickr.

Pellizar 133. Photo by O roxo Flickr.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the fuel burnt by fishing boats are 30 per cent higher than previously reported, researchers with the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia and the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean at the University of Western Australia have found.

In a study published in Marine Policy, the scientists show that 207 million tonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere by marine fishing vessels only in 2016. This is almost the same amount of CO2 emitted by 51 coal-fired power plants in the same timeframe.

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A pair of One-spot Pullers (Chromis hypsilepis) preparing to spawn. Home Bommie, Ulladulla, NSW. Photo by Richard Ling, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Most female fish grow bigger than the males: deal with it!

A pair of One-spot Pullers (Chromis hypsilepis) preparing to spawn. Home Bommie, Ulladulla, NSW. Photo by Richard Ling, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A pair of One-spot Pullers (Chromis hypsilepis) preparing to spawn. Home Bommie, Ulladulla, NSW. Photo by Richard Ling, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In over 80 per cent of fish species, the females, including those known as ‘big old fecund females,’ or BOFFS, grow bigger than the males. This long-established fact is difficult to explain with the conventional view of fish spawning being a drain on the ‘energy’ available for growth. If this view were correct, females, which are defined by their larger reproductive effort, would always remain smaller than males.

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