Photo by WWF.

Nothing natural about nature’s steep decline: WWF report reveals staggering extent of human impact, including that of fisheries, on planet

Photo by WWF.

Photo by WWF.

Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies are pushing nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018. The report, released today, presents a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.

The Living Planet Report 2018 presents a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world, twenty years after the flagship report was first published. Through indicators such as the Living Planet Index (LPI) provided by the Zoological Society of London, the Species Habitat Index (SHI), the IUCN Red List Index (RLI), the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) and the Sea Around Us fisheries data, as well as Planetary Boundaries and the Ecological Footprint, the report paints a singular disturbing picture: human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on earth to the edge.

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Catches global

Pauly and Zeller explain the making of the Sea Around Us database

via GIPHY
 

The Sea Around Us’ Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller have just added a new publication to their long list of items in the literature. In this case, it is a chapter in the recently published book World Seas: An environmental evaluation. Vol. III: Ecological issues and environmental impacts, edited by Charles Sheppard.

In “The making of a global marine fisheries catch database for policy development,” Pauly and Zeller give a detailed account of the process of creating the Sea Around Us’ global catch database that builds on and addresses the deficiencies of the database created and maintained by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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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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Catch reconstructions vid

Shareable catch reconstructions vid

Catch reconstructions are not always easy to explain to non-scientists.

How did the Sea Around Us find out that overfishing has caused a steady decline in catches since the mid-1990s? What sources did researchers use? What’s the difference between officially reported figures and the Sea Around Us’ numbers?

More accurate data substantially improves fisheries monitoring and, in return, better monitoring generates better data. The overall result would be a greater protection to global fish stocks.

This is how we get #BetterData

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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