For the first time in over 10 years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) acknowledged that catch reconstructions, such as those carried out by the Sea Around Us for every maritime country and territory, help fill gaps in national fisheries data and, thus, can illustrate how catches have really changed over time.
In response to this acknowledgement, which appeared in the bi-annual State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report, known as SOFIA, Daniel Pauly of the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia, and Dirk Zeller of the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean at the University of Western Australia, published a short comment in Marine Policy welcoming what they see as a positive step by FAO in the quest of providing better fisheries data to the global community.
Tokelau’s fish-dependent population may be at risk of seeing its main source of locally available animal protein dramatically reduced if the amounts and species of fish caught by local fishers in their waters stay the same or increase.
According to a study by 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, a small-scale, commercial or artisanal fishery that has been growing since it began in the early 2000s, combined with an expanding foreign industrial fishery that catches most of the offshore fish in the territory’s exclusive economic zone, may threaten people’s access to fresh seafood.
Fishing companies operating worldwide are missing between $51 billion and $83 billion in unrealized net economic benefits every year due to the overexploitation and underperformance of fish stocks. For these fishing companies, that means they are spending too much and getting fewer fish, revenues and profits than they could.
By combining fisheries data from the Sea Around Us initiative at UBC with country-level data on modern slavery, the researchers found that countries whose fleets rely heavily on government subsidies, fish far away from home ports, and fail to comprehensively report their actual catch, tend to fish beyond sustainable limits and are at higher risk of labour abuses.