Massive under-reporting of fish catches leads to declining stocks - Nature - Environment - The Independent

Massive under-reporting of fish catches leads to declining stocks

A A A

The total amount of fish being caught in the world is significantly under-reported because official statistics do not take into account the substantial catches made by some of the poorest nations that rely on fishing as a food staple, a study has found.

Scientists have estimated that for more than 50 years the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has failed to report the huge volumes of fish being caught collectively by small-scale fisheries in its statistics on national catches.

They believe the discrepancy is exacerbating the decline in fish stocks by allowing some of the poorest countries to report higher fish stocks than really exist. This permits them to sell off their fishing rights to richer nations which take the highest-value fish.

Jennifer Jacquet, a member of the research team, said the official catch reported by the Mozambique government suggests that each citizen is eating about 3kg of fish per year. However, when the scientists looked at the catches being made by subsistence fishing, that consumption rate rose to 9kg a year.

Despite this three-fold discrepancy, the Mozambique government was using its reported catch to justify selling off fishing permits to EU boats that were coming into Mozambique waters to fish for high-value shrimp, which often leads to substantial bycatch that is thrown overboard as waste fish – further depleting stocks for the local community.

"This is the antithesis of the Robin Hood parable. Instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, we're stealing from the poor to give to the rich," Ms Jacquet said yesterday.

Daniel Pauly, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, said the study emphasised how under-reporting of fish catches was making the overall decline of fish stocks worse for some of the poorest people in the world.

"We discovered one nation under-reporting its fisheries catches and then realised that this wasn't an isolated case but a problem globally. Everywhere we look, the number of fish being taken from reefs is greater than reported," Dr Pauly said. "This news is not only shocking but disheartening. Our previous conclusions about widespread over fishing must be amplified," he told the International Coral Reef Symposium held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The extent of the under-reporting is of such a magnitude, it boggles the mind," he said. "The only fish being reported in the national catches are the ones that are traded and the rest is ignored. So the overall picture is wrong."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Administrator - Graduate

£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Looking for work in Secondary Schools?

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...

Year 5 Teacher

£3000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wor...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week