More pressure on global fish stocks as scientists warn of underreporting of catches

In a July 9th story, reports that fish catches in some of the poorest nations in the world have been grossly underestimated, scientists warned recently.The implication is that global fish stocks, already widely acknowledged to be under heavy pressure, are in far more in danger than thought. The underreporting particularly threatens the hundreds of millions of poor people around the world who rely on fish for subsistence.

A reconstruction of actual catches in 20 places around the globe showed that fish landings that were not reported were at least as high as the declared catch, and sometimes more than 16 times higher.

“This is underreporting of such magnitude that it boggles the mind,” said Professor Daniel Pauly, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The global database of world fish catches is maintained by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. It is based on voluntary declaration, and often misses subsistence and recreational fishing.

The new study, presented to the 11th international coral reef symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was conducted by scientists from the Sea Around Us project, an international research group based at the University of British Columbia. They visited the locations, questioned local officials and made their own estimates of subsistence fishery calculations since 1950.

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