Global fish harvest is at least 30 percent higher than official reports, according to a recent study made by the University of British Columbia. For the Philippines, a “serious” re-examination of fisheries data is recommended.
“It’s been a known fact that we don’t sustainably utilize our marine resources. This study reveals that we’re doing much worse. If we continue to exhaust our marine resources, there will be nothing left for the future. We have to give our oceans a chance to restore its natural bounty,” said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines.
The study on fish reconstruction, led by Dr. Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller through the Sea Around Us project at UBC, reported that 32 billion kilograms of fish catch goes unreported every year.
The annual global catch is actually about 109 billion kilograms, according to the findings of the fish reconstruction study.
This is 30 percent higher than the 77 billion kilograms reported in 2010 by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The discrepancy was traced to the exclusion of categories such as artisanal and subsistence fishing, as well as illegal fishing and discarded fish, in the FAO data. Most countries focus their data collection efforts on industrial fishing, the scientists said.
Pauly and Zeller, along with hundreds of their colleagues around the world, arrived at the new figure after reviewing fish catch data from more than 200 countries and territories.
The study compared data from FAO with estimates from a broad range of sources including academic literature, local fisheries experts, fisheries law enforcement, human population, and documentation of fish catch by tourists.