#Conservation: Plenty of fish in the sea? Maybe not, says study


The global fisheries catch has been underestimated by more than half since 1950, with tens of millions of tonnes unreported every year, said a study Tuesday, warning that stocks may be running low.

About 109 million tonnes of fish were caught in 2010 — 30 percent higher than the 77 million tonnes reported to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), according to the study.

This meant that about 32 million tonnes of catch went unreported that year, “more than the weight of the entire population of the United States,” said a research duo from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

In the peak fishing year of 1996, the FAO had documented a global catch of 86 million tonnes. In fact, it was closer to 130 million tonnes, according to the research published in Nature Communications.

“The world is withdrawing from a joint bank account of fish without knowing what has been withdrawn, or the remaining balance,” said the study’s lead author Daniel Pauly.

For the study, Pauly and his colleague Dirk Zeller compiled a “catch reconstruction”, combining FAO data with estimates of figures countries generally excluded from their official reports.

These included small-scale commercial or subsistence fishing, recreational or illegal fishing, and discarded bycatch.

The pair of researchers, backed by a team of 100 collaborators from more than 50 institutions, relied on academic literature, industrial fishing statistics, local fisheries experts, law enforcers, coastal communities and tourist catch data.

“We find that reconstructed global catches between 1950 and 2010 were 50 percent higher than data reported to FAO suggest,” the authors wrote.

They called for more robust reporting and monitoring of catches.

“This groundbreaking study confirms that we are taking far more fish from our oceans than the official data suggests,” commented Joshua Reichert, vice president of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which supported the work.

“It’s no longer acceptable to mark down artisanal, subsistence or bycatch catch data as zero in the official record books.”

– Faster decline –

The team also found that the annual catch has been declining since 1996 at a much faster rate than suggested by FAO data.

And rather than the result of catch quotas, the trend may point to stocks running low, Pauly told AFP.

“When we remove countries that have catch limits… the decline persisted,” he said by email.

“The overall decline in catches is due to overfishing, and hence bad news.”

The FAO had reported the catch shrinking by about 380,000 tonnes per year from 1996 to 2010, but the reconstructed data pointed to a much stronger decline of 1.2 million tonnes per year.

The drop was mainly in large, commercial fishing — which accounted for 73 million tonnes in 2010, combined with “gradually reduced” levels of discarded bycatch — to about 10.3 million tonnes per year on average.

But small-scale artisanal catches are on the rise — from about eight million tonnes in the early 1950s to 22 million tonnes in 2010.

Subsistence fisheries caught about 3.8 million tonnes per year between 2000 to 2010, and the global estimate for recreational catches is about a million tonnes per year.

The team conceded that, as with data submitted to the FAO, their reconstruction “implies a certain degree of uncertainty”.

Nevertheless, “these new estimates provide countries with more accurate assessments of catch levels than we have ever had,” said Reichert.

John Tanzer, director of green group WWF’s global marine programme, also described the report as “bad news”.

“We are fishing harder and catching less fish,” he told AFP by telephone from Abu Dhabi.

The higher catch estimates were no surprise, said Tanzer, “but the extent to which the study indicated is worrying.”

The FAO, for its part, said there were concerns about a few “technical elements” of the study, but it agreed with the basic conclusions.

“Catch statistics… can and should be improved, and this requires additional funding and international collaboration and country commitment,” it said in a statement.

(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)



  1. Avatar SARKODIEKWADWO99 April 30th, 2012 at 2:54 pm


  2. Avatar eeeiueae April 30th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Guys come on! I am an Ethiopian. I know who is Haile Selassie. He was buried twice – once by the Derge regime and then by Meles. You can check his tomb and broken bones. He was not and is not and will not be a God. As regard to your status to live in Ethiopia, you can ask for immigration visa as any other nations. If you are granted, then you live in the country. Otherwise go back to your origin. There is no land to claim. But you could try to sabotage Ehadig than claiming. That could work 😉

  3. Avatar alexspeed April 30th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Its a sad day when you realize that your heaven is not heaven after all. Still i hope that the Rastafarians get some sort of concession for the land that they have occupied for 50 years.

  4. Avatar Efrem May 1st, 2012 at 12:07 am

     Rastas are Jamaicans not Ethiopians and Ethiopia is not land of the immigrants like USA.You don’t have any land in Ethiopia,Ethiopia belongs to Ethiopians not Jamaicans,I just want to say to Jamaicans living in Shashamane ,go back to your country,leave us alone.Haile Selassie was not god and no one in Ethiopia including the clergy of the Orthodox church  believe in this ,Your presence in Ethiopia is a head ache to all of us. Just pack and  leave to your Jamaica you might find followers there.   We as Ethiopians oppose any kind of Jamaicans settlement in Ethiopia as this in future might trigger some kind of movement to get rid of them. The Parliament and Ethiopian government should understand this and  keep the matter under check,or other wise one day it would be too late.

    1. Avatar Assefash May 8th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      Efrem are you really Ethiopian? Whatever happened to hospitality? Sefsafa! What is your problem? From your words you seem to be the kind of person who can’t even be the head of a small household and you’re trying to decide who should or not reside in Shashemene. If Ras Tafari has agreed to give the land to old African descendants who desired to come back home then Shashemene IS home to the Jamaicans and their residence is not an obstacle to Ethiopians. I personally believe they should be given Ethiopian citizenship as they wish just like Ethiopian immigrants get American citizenship.

      1. Avatar kal February 1st, 2013 at 4:15 am

        Where do you live? In Lala land i bet. We don’t even have enough land for the 82+ million Ethiopian citizens, what makes you think we can accommodate foreigners? There reason we have this issue to begin with, is because we have people like you in the government.

    2. Avatar Kal February 1st, 2013 at 4:09 am


  5. Avatar Dj May 1st, 2012 at 3:01 am


  6. Avatar Rasyamyasfera May 1st, 2012 at 3:22 am

    first thing am an ethiopian and i feel shame writing in english, our backward thinking got ethiopians poor.im going back the slavery times were slaves masters told their slaves their god is the qeen of england not haileselassie thats were i think the idia came from, the slaver of the body,mind and soul.ethiopian culture cant be changed but change people and free some but none but urself can free ur mind then ethiopia is evrywhere evn in darkest place  becouse you born in ethiopia dont make you ethiopian.rastafaries are orginal ethiopians they should free the ppl once they free.the diffrentt between relgious and spirtual is puzzel for lot of yo,religion is the relationship btn you and god.rasta is spirt wel who can judge who is god or not.whts did god promised david his throwen forever so does GOD break his promis ethiopiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?1OVE

  7. Avatar Abebual Zerihun May 1st, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Ethiopians love Rastaferians! One day, you will be accepted as citizens please keep up the fight, don’t give up on us. The current ignorance won’t be there forever. We love you.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *