Since its inception in 1999, the Sea Around Us has strived to make its data and methods available to everyone, especially to developing countries. This is to foster access to and use of reconstructed fisheries catch statistics and -when possible- so that they start carrying out reconstructions themselves.
By Vicky Lam – Research Associate & Program Manager, Nereus Program, University of British Columbia.
In late August, Professors Daniel Pauly, Rashid Sumaila and Dr. Vicky Lam, as representatives of the Global Fisheries Cluster in UBC’s Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, were invited by the World Bank to attend a technical consultation meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. The plan was to discuss a potential project that aims at understanding the likely impacts of climate change on fisheries in African countries.
Illegal fishing accounts for about 30 per cent of catches by industrial foreign fleets in Sierra Leone, says a new study published in Marine Policy.
The paper states that, in the past decade, industrial foreign vessels have increased their presence and illegal activities in Sierra Leonean waters either on their own or by enticing small-scale fishers into illicit partnerships, such as acting as transshipment vessels in nearshore areas.
Reduced monitoring, control, and surveillance, related to the withdrawal of development aid, is spurring unlicensed operations, researchers say. The study estimates that more than 42,000 tonnes of fish were caught illegally in 2015 alone.
Nevertheless, for the past 18 years, the Sea Around Us has taken on this mission and nowadays its global reconstructed catch data has become a point of reference for scientists, conservation practitioners, fishers, and fisheries managers across the world.
But getting this information and the associated implications to the general public, and inspiring people to take action on it, is a whole different story. Fortunately, filmmaker Alison Barrat, from the Khaled Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, understood how important it is to spread the word about the true amount of fish we are taking out of our oceans and, with the support of the Smithsonian Channel, Rare and the Sea Around Us, produced and directed the documentary An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch.
Some artisanal fleets in West Africa have grown so much in terms of number of boats, vessel size and capacity, and the aggregate engine power that they deploy that they have become comparable to the smaller industrial fleets operating in the region.
A new study by the Sea Around Us project reveals that, in the past 60 years, total artisanal fishing effort in the waters that extend from the coast of Morocco to the coast of Angola has increased by 10-fold.