Global Fish Catches Vastly Underestimated

By Stephen Leahy

FORT LAUDERDALE, U.S., Jul 8 (IPS) – Fish catches in tropical island nations may be as much as 17 times higher than officially reported, according to a new study released Tuesday.

“The underreporting of fish catches is of such a magnitude it boggles the mind,” said Daniel Pauly, a renowned fisheries expert at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

All of the 20 small Pacific island countries in the study underreported catches, mainly because they did not count the catch by small-scale local fishers. This is not unique — even the U.S. does not report local and recreational fishing statistics, Pauly told IPS at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Tuesday.

A different study also released Tuesday estimates that the unreported recreational fish catch in the Hawaiian Islands doubles the size of the official catch. It also concluded that 75 percent of reef fishes in the main Hawaiian Islands are depleted or in critical condition because of overfishing. Continue reading