Countries’ improvements to their fisheries statistics have been contributing to the false impression that humanity is getting more and more fish from the ocean when, in reality, global marine catches have been declining on average by around 1.2 million tonnes per year since 1996.
Text by Fabien Bourinet – Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes, France.
The deliverables of my five-month internship with the Sea Around Us, at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, included establishing strong links between the area-specific catch and related data made available by the Sea Around Us and the ecosystem food-web models in Ecobase. I played the role of a middleman whose job was to improve the communication between these two websites and the information they contain.
Following a successful festival season, the film An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch is now available for free viewing.
Besides being premiered on Earth Day 2017 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and on the Smithsonian Channel, the documentary had a full-house screening at the University of British Columbia and at 11 different international film festivals. It was also recognized in different categories at the Blue Ocean Film Festival, the Indie Fest Film Awards, the International Ocean Film Festival, the Impact Docs Awards, and the American Conservation Film Festival.
Pauly is the Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia and a co-founder of FishBase.org. Together with his team, he produced global, multi-year analyses of fish catches, which have helped the public understand the sad plight of the oceans – particularly the fact that fish populations all over the world are plummeting.
Fish catches by Thailand’s distant-water fleet fishing throughout the Indo-Pacific are almost seven times higher than what the country reports to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a new study by the Sea Around Us reveals.
In 2014 alone, the Asian country caught 3.7 million tonnes of fish outside its Exclusive Economic Zone but reported only 247,000 tonnes. This figure, although substantial, represents a decline from peak numbers reached in the mid-1990s when the more relaxed rules of Thailand’s neighbours allowed for massive catches of over 7 million tonnes per year. Back then, as much as 80 per cent of the catch was unreported and much of it likely obtained illegally, the study reveals.