Fact Sheet


Overfishing has created downward systemic pressure on ocean habitats and fish, threatening the viability of fish stocks and the health of the ocean.  In 2010, 30 percent of the stocks reported by FAO were either overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion.

Sea Around Us findings indicate that data reported by FAO on behalf of countries have underestimated fishery catches by 50 percent since 1950, and global catches have been declining steadily since peak catch in 1996 (Pauly and Zeller 2016a). The need for analysis to evaluate total catch is critical in determining fisheries policy and providing food security in developing countries.


The Sea Around Us and Sea Around UsIndian Ocean are research initiatives at the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia, respectively. The Sea Around Us has been supported generously by The Pew Charitable Trusts for 15 years, followed by support from the Paul G. Allan Family Foundation and Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen company. The Sea Around Us provides reconstructed catch and other fisheries data, indicators and analyses to assess the impact of fisheries on marine ecosystems and offer mitigating solutions to stakeholders.  A lack of accurate or comprehensive data make efforts to stem the tide of overfishing difficult, limiting the chances of success.  The Sea Around Us provides a part of the solution – using comprehensive and truly global reconstructed catch and other data and analyses for fisheries across the globe (Pauly and Zeller 2016b).


The Sea Around Us conducts reconstructions of catch data by analyzing additional available fisheries, socio-economic and population data sources.  Resultant reconstructed catch data are then allocated to  ½ degree longitude by ½ degree latitude cells by taxon and fishing country.  The reconstructed catch includes industrial, recreational, artisanal, subsistence, and discard activity, both reported and unreported.

The Sea Around Us offers reconstructed catch allocations that have ecological and policy relevance. Data are made available in multiple dimensions, including Exclusive Economic Zones, Large Marine Ecosystems, Marine Ecoregions, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, High Seas areas, Global, or Fishing countries.


Catch Allocation Map: The Sea Around Us website has powerful data visualization tools providing researchers the opportunity to search and view catch allocation data from 1950 through the most recent year of processed data by one or more taxa, fishing countries or a combination of both. The map visualization features catch data distributed across ½ degree latitude-longitude cells.

Catch Allocation Graphs and Analysis Tools: Catch allocation pages provide users the opportunity to display, analyze and download data and references by multiple regions or taxa, as well as links to additional models, region and taxon information and ecological indicators. All allocated catch data is available for download via CSV file.

Resources and Tools:  The website also includes additional data on mariculture, integration with sites such as FAO, Ocean Heath Index, FishBase and other partners, and access to further studies, resource papers, key publications and presentations.


The Sea Around Us code is publicly available on GitHub. For larger data sets or access to additional information or data, data can be accessed via R-libraries, or contact Sea Around Us.


The Sea Around Us invites your input in continuing to improve the data and website features. Feedback links are available throughout the website. To receive updates on future functionality, sign up for Alerts at seaaroundus.org.

For more information, contact Valentina Ruiz Leotaud at v.ruizleotaud@oceans.ubc.ca

Pauly D and Zeller D (2016a) Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Nature Communications 7: 10244.
Pauly D and Zeller D, editors (2016b) Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries: A critical appraisal of catches and ecosystem impacts. Island Press, Washington, D.C. xvii + 486 p.