Billions lost as illicit fisheries trade hurting nations who can afford it least

More than eight million to 14 million tonnes of unreported fish catches are traded illicitly every year, costing the legitimate market between $9 billion and $17 billion in trade each year, according to new research.

In a paper published in Science Advances, researchers from the Fisheries Economics Research Unit and the Sea Around Us initiative, both based at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, as well as the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean at the University of Western Australia, looked at catch losses for 143 countries and found that significant amounts of seafood are being illicitly taken out of the food supply system of many countries, impacting the nutritional food security and livelihoods of millions.

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Recreational fishers catching more sharks and rays

Recreational fishers catching more sharks and rays

Hammerhead shark. Photo by Kris Mikael Krister, Wikimedia Commons.

Recreational fishers are increasingly targeting sharks and rays, a situation that is causing concern among researchers.

A new study by an international team of scientists reveals that recreational catches of these fishes have gradually increased over the last six decades around the world, now accounting for 5-6 per cent of the total catches taken for leisure or pleasure.

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Popular fish in China would increase in value if they were caught with larger meshes

Popular fish in China would increase in value if caught with larger meshes

Popular fish in China would increase in value if they were caught with larger meshes

Largehead hairtail. Public domain photo.

Fish that are highly valued by Chinese consumers, such as largehead hairtail, would grow in value and in the amounts that are caught if industrial fisheries increased the mesh size of their nets.

New research by the Sea Around Us initiative at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries found that trawlers operating in China’s coastal waters are overfishing 21 economically important species because the mesh size is so small that, together with large, desirable fish, undersized fish are also getting caught. This means that fish are being taken out before they are able to reproduce.

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China’s Bohai Sea left with only tiny fish

China’s Bohai Sea left with only tiny fish

China’s Bohai Sea left with only tiny fish

Japanase sardinella. Image by Totti, Wikimedia Commons.

Smaller fish and invertebrates, such as gazami crab or Japanese sardinella, are replacing larger, more commercially valuable fish such as largehead hairtail in the Bohai Sea in northeastern China.

A new study by scientists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries shows that industrial fisheries have severely affected food webs in the Bohai Sea, with organisms that occupy lower levels in the food web becoming more common than larger predators.

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