Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Bottom trawling causes deep-sea fish populations collapse

Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Bottom trawling is causing “boom and bust” fisheries.

A new study using the Sea Around Us’ reconstructed catch data reveals that in the past 60+ years, the practice of towing giant fishing nets along the sea floor has caused the extraction of 25 million tonnes of fish that live 400 metres or more below sea level leading to the collapse of many of those fish populations.

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Fishing trawlers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by stratman², Flickr.

Industrial fisheries in Southeast Asia divert millions of tonnes of fish to fishmeal

Fishing trawlers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by stratman², Flickr.

Fishing trawlers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by stratman², Flickr.

Four countries in Southeast Asia have diverted almost 40 million tonnes of fish towards fishmeal production in the past six decades, as opposed to making it available for direct human consumption.

A new study by the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia reveals that government policies in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have focused on expanding their industrial fisheries and making them competitive, despite the fact that such growth may not always benefit their own countries’ food security.

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Fishermen holding a net between boat and beach at Pinda, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons.

Mistake in fisheries statistics shows false increase in catches

Fishermen holding a net between boat and beach at Pinda, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons.

Fishermen holding a net between boat and beach at Pinda, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons.

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.

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Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Thailand hides big numbers when it comes to its fish catches in neighbouring waters

Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

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.

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