Facing extinction- African penguin- Photo by David Grémillet.

Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds all around the world

Facing extinction- African penguin- Photo by David Grémillet.

Facing extinction- African penguin- Photo by David Grémillet.

Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds like penguins and terns by competing for the same prey sources, new research from the French National Center for Scientific Research in Montpellier and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia has found.

In a study published today in Current Biology, researchers found that annual seabird food consumption decreased from 70 to 57 million tonnes between 1970 and 2010. Meanwhile, fisheries increased their catches of potential seabird prey from an average of 59 million tonnes in the 1970s and 80s to 65 million tonnes per year in recent years.

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Menhaden fisheries in Louisiana, USA. Photo by Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Louisiana State University, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Fishing companies lose millions of dollars every year and they don’t know it

Menhaden fisheries in Louisiana, USA. Photo by Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Louisiana State University, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Menhaden fisheries in Louisiana, USA. Photo by Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Louisiana State University, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Fishing companies operating worldwide are missing between $51 billion and $83 billion in unrealized net economic benefits every year due to the overexploitation and underperformance of fish stocks. For these fishing companies, that means they are spending too much and getting fewer fish, revenues and profits than they could.

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Photo by ILO.

Modern slavery promotes overfishing

Labour abuses, including modern slavery, are ‘hidden subsidies’ that allow distant-water fishing fleets to remain profitable and promote overfishing, new research from the University of Western Australia and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia has found.

By combining fisheries data from the Sea Around Us initiative at UBC with country-level data on modern slavery, the researchers found that countries whose fleets rely heavily on government subsidies, fish far away from home ports, and fail to comprehensively report their actual catch, tend to fish beyond sustainable limits and are at higher risk of labour abuses.

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Photo by WWF.

Nothing natural about nature’s steep decline: WWF report reveals staggering extent of human impact, including that of fisheries, on planet

Photo by WWF.

Photo by WWF.

Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies are pushing nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018. The report, released today, presents a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.

The Living Planet Report 2018 presents a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world, twenty years after the flagship report was first published. Through indicators such as the Living Planet Index (LPI) provided by the Zoological Society of London, the Species Habitat Index (SHI), the IUCN Red List Index (RLI), the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) and the Sea Around Us fisheries data, as well as Planetary Boundaries and the Ecological Footprint, the report paints a singular disturbing picture: human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on earth to the edge.

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Praia dos coqueiros, Bahia state, Brazil. Photo from Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain.

Recreational fisheries in northeastern Brazil increase threats to snapper populations

Praia dos coqueiros, Bahia state, Brazil. Photo from Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain.

Praia dos coqueiros, Bahia state, Brazil. Photo from Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain.

Populations of silk snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper, yellowtail snapper, and dog snapper are seeing increased pressure due to the growing activity of recreational fisheries operating offshore northeastern Brazil.

A new study published in the Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research states that even though recreational catches in the area are small when compared to commercial catches, they have grown to a point where their impact should not be ignored.

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Dr. Deng Palomares. Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

Frontiers awards the Sea Around Us Project Manager

Dr. Deng Palomares. Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

Dr. Deng Palomares. Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

The Sea Around Us Project Manager, Dr. Deng Palomares, received an award that praises her efforts as Specialty Chief Editor for Frontiers in Marine Science.

Granted by the journal’s Community Support Fund, the award acts as a positive acknowledgment of the impact of Dr. Palomares’ initiative to maintain a vibrant Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture section, as well as of her incessant work in encouraging scientists to submit their papers and boosting the overall growth of Frontiers.

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PaulAllen_CommemorativeImage_660

The Sea Around Us laments the passing of Paul G. Allen

PaulAllen_CommemorativeImage_660

 

It is with great sadness that the Sea Around Us team received the news about the passing of Mr. Paul G. Allen.

As informed by his company and our project’s partner, Vulcan Inc., Allen passed on Monday, October 15, 2018. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and coworkers.

In his role as philanthropist, community builder, and conservationist, Allen supported the Sea Around Us for three years. We are thankful for having had the opportunity to work alongside such a generous person.

Photo by RSiS.

Cooperation in the South China Sea

Photo by RSiS.

Photo by RSiS.

In September 2018, the Sea Around Us Principal Investigator, Daniel Pauly, traveled to Singapore to take part in a conference titled “The South China Sea Fisheries Cooperation: Progress, Problems and Prospect,” which was organized by Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

As keynote speaker, Dr. Pauly gave an overview of the fisheries in the South China Sea. Using the Sea Around Us catch reconstructions of the countries in the area, he explained who is catching what, and outlined major trends in catch composition and catch per effort.

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Photo by Magda Ehlers, Pexels.

Become a Forrest Scholar while studying for your PhD with the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean

Photo by Magda Ehlers, Pexels.

Photo by Magda Ehlers, Pexels.

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean, based at the University of Western Australia under the lead of Professor Dirk Zeller, is looking for outstanding PhD candidates interested in conducting ‘big-data’ research on fisheries and fisheries conservation issues at the ocean-basin scale or on Indian Ocean Rim countries.

If this is of interest to you, then consider applying for the Forrest Research Foundation Scholarship program, which is open to domestic (i.e., Australian) and international applicants. The round for 2019 PhD students opened on September 10, 2018 and closes midnight Western Australian Time (GMT +8) on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

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Catches global

Pauly and Zeller explain the making of the Sea Around Us database

via GIPHY
 

The Sea Around Us’ Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller have just added a new publication to their long list of items in the literature. In this case, it is a chapter in the recently published book World Seas: An environmental evaluation. Vol. III: Ecological issues and environmental impacts, edited by Charles Sheppard.

In “The making of a global marine fisheries catch database for policy development,” Pauly and Zeller give a detailed account of the process of creating the Sea Around Us’ global catch database that builds on and addresses the deficiencies of the database created and maintained by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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Photo by Naka9707, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Appetite for luxurious shark fin soup drives massive shark populations decline

Photo by Naka9707, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Naka9707, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Populations of some shark species such as hammerhead and oceanic whitetip have declined by over 90 per cent in recent years largely because of wealthy consumers’ growing appetite for fin soup, a new paper in Marine Policy states.

The study by researchers from the University of Hong Kong, the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia and WildAid Hong Kong, reveals that since fishing pressure on threatened shark populations has increased dramatically in recent years, it is urgent for consumers to stop demanding shark fin products.

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Atlantic cod. Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld, Wikimedia Commons.

Half of Russian catches in the Barents Sea thrown overboard

Atlantic cod. Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld, Wikimedia Commons.

Atlantic cod. Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld, Wikimedia Commons.

Russian fishing fleets operating in the Barents Sea dumped 42.7 million tonnes of good fish back into the ocean over the past 65 years according to new research. Thankfully, fishing practices have improved in recent years.

The study by researchers with the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia, and the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean at the University of Western Australia, reveals that 55 per cent of the total catch taken by Russian fishers from the Barents Sea was discarded due to poor fishing practices and inadequate management.

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Distant water expansion

Industrial fisheries’ expansion impacts 90 per cent of the global ocean, causes massive catch decline

Industrial fishing fleets have doubled the distance they travel to fishing grounds since 1950 but catch only a third of what they did 65 years ago per kilometre travelled, a new study from the Sea Around Us research initiative at the University of Western Australia and the University of British Columbia has found.

By mapping the growth and spread of industrial fisheries using the Sea Around Us data, the researchers found that these global trends were dominated by the heavily subsidized fleets of a small number of countries that have increased the total area fished from 60 per cent to 90 per cent of the world’s oceans.

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FishBase video

Support FishBase

 

The Sea Around Us Project Manager, Dr. Deng Palomares, wrote the below letter in support of FishBase, one of our project’s valued partners.

FishBase needs help and I am writing to you because you either have at one point or another requested data to be extracted from FishBase for your own research purposes or have contributed your own data to FishBase.

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Want to have a big impact in marine conservation and global fisheries? Study with the new Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean

Photo from Max Pixel,CC0.

Photo from Max Pixel,CC0.

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean under the lead of Professor Dirk Zeller at the University of Western Australia is looking for outstanding PhD candidates interested in conducting ‘big-data’ and meta-analysis research on fisheries and fisheries conservation issues at the ocean-basin scale. If this is of interest to you, then consider applying for a PhD Scholarship at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth. The mid-year 2018 round for domestic (Australian) candidates opens from 1 June 2018 until 13 July 2018, while the international candidates only round 1 for 2019 opens from 2 July 2018 until 31 August 2018. Please only apply after consultation with Professor Zeller.

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Half of all high seas fishing grounds would be unprofitable without current subsidies

Purse seine. Photo by NOAA.

Purse seine. Photo by NOAA.


As much as 54 per cent of the high seas fishing industry would be unprofitable at its current scale without large government subsidies, according to a new study by researchers from the National Geographic Society; the University of California, Santa Barbara; Global Fishing Watch; and the Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia.

The research, published today in the open-access journal Science Advances, found that the global cost of fishing in the high seas ranged between $6.2 billion and $8 billion in 2014. Profits from this activity range between a loss of $364 million and a profit of $1.4 billion.

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Ad Dammam, Eastern, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Mohammed J, Flickr.

Climate change to cause dramatic drop in Persian Gulf biodiversity and fisheries catch potential

Ad Dammam, Eastern, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Mohammed J, Flickr.

Ad Dammam, Eastern, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Mohammed J, Flickr.

The Persian Gulf may lose up to 12 per cent of its marine biodiversity in some areas before the end of the century if countries in the region do not take measures to address climate change.

According to scientists at the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia, a business-as-usual climate scenario will severely affect species richness off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by the end of the century.

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Daniel Pauly talks climate change and fisheries in Peru

The Sea Around Us Principal Investigator, Daniel Pauly, is in Peru attending a series of meetings this week and is scheduled to offer a couple of public talks to discuss his most recent research on climate change and global marine fisheries.

The first event will take place on Thursday, April 19th at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, where he will talk about the impact of fisheries and global warming on marine ecosystems.

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Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Bottom trawling causes deep-sea fish populations collapse

Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Pacific Sleeper Shark. Photo by NOAA.

Bottom trawling is causing “boom and bust” fisheries.

A new study using the Sea Around Us’ reconstructed catch data reveals that in the past 60+ years, the practice of towing giant fishing nets along the sea floor has caused the extraction of 25 million tonnes of fish that live 400 metres or more below sea level leading to the collapse of many of those fish populations.

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Catch reconstructions vid

Shareable catch reconstructions vid

Catch reconstructions are not always easy to explain to non-scientists.

How did the Sea Around Us find out that overfishing has caused a steady decline in catches since the mid-1990s? What sources did researchers use? What’s the difference between officially reported figures and the Sea Around Us’ numbers?

More accurate data substantially improves fisheries monitoring and, in return, better monitoring generates better data. The overall result would be a greater protection to global fish stocks.

This is how we get #BetterData

Thai fishing boat. Photo by Sea Dave, Flickr.

Thai government shares information with the Sea Around Us

Thai fishing boat. Photo by Sea Dave, Flickr.

Thai fishing boat. Photo by Sea Dave, Flickr.

Following the publication of the paper “Thailand’s missing marine fisheries catch (1950-2014),” the Sea Around Us received an email from Thailand’s Department of European Affairs. We welcome such communications and engagements with countries.

The electronic communication included a series of media statements that highlight a range of initiatives undertaken by the Prayut Chan-o-cha government to promote best practices in the fisheries sector.

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Fishing trawlers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by stratman², Flickr.

Industrial fisheries in Southeast Asia divert millions of tonnes of fish to fishmeal

Fishing trawlers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by stratman², Flickr.

Fishing trawlers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo by stratman², Flickr.

Four countries in Southeast Asia have diverted almost 40 million tonnes of fish towards fishmeal production in the past six decades, as opposed to making it available for direct human consumption.

A new study by the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia reveals that government policies in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have focused on expanding their industrial fisheries and making them competitive, despite the fact that such growth may not always benefit their own countries’ food security.

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Dirk

Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean: Scholarships for international students

Dirk

The Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean under the lead of Professor Dirk Zeller is looking for outstanding international PhD candidates interested in conducting ‘big-data’ research on fisheries and fisheries conservation issues at the ocean-basin scale. If this is of interest to you, then consider applying for an international PhD Scholarship at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The current round of applications closes on April 6, 2018 and is for international candidates only.

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Fishermen holding a net between boat and beach at Pinda, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons.

Mistake in fisheries statistics shows false increase in catches

Fishermen holding a net between boat and beach at Pinda, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons.

Fishermen holding a net between boat and beach at Pinda, Mozambique. Photo by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons.

Countries’ improvements to their fisheries statistics have been contributing to the false impression that humanity is getting more and more fish from the ocean when, in reality, global marine catches have been declining on average by around 1.2 million tonnes per year since 1996.

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The Sea Around Us now links to Ecosystem Models in Ecobase

EcoBase

 

Text by Fabien Bourinet – Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes, France.

The deliverables of my five-month internship with the Sea Around Us, at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, included establishing strong links between the area-specific catch and related data made available by the Sea Around Us and the ecosystem food-web models in Ecobase. I played the role of a middleman whose job was to improve the communication between these two websites and the information they contain.

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An Ocean Mystery

An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch now available for free viewing

An Ocean Mystery

 

Following a successful festival season, the film An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch is now available for free viewing.

Besides being premiered on Earth Day 2017 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and on the Smithsonian Channel, the documentary had a full-house screening at the University of British Columbia and at 11 different international film festivals. It was also recognized in different categories at the Blue Ocean Film Festival, the Indie Fest Film Awards, the International Ocean Film Festival, the Impact Docs Awards, and the American Conservation Film Festival.

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Oceana event Philippines 2018

Renowned marine biologists talk about ocean conservation in the Philippines

Oceana event Philippines 2018

 

A group of marine biologists led by the world’s top fisheries scientist, Daniel Pauly, are calling for stronger action to conserve and protect fisheries resources in the Philippines.

Pauly is the Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia and a co-founder of FishBase.org. Together with his team, he produced global, multi-year analyses of fish catches, which have helped the public understand the sad plight of the oceans – particularly the fact that fish populations all over the world are plummeting.

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Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Thailand hides big numbers when it comes to its fish catches in neighbouring waters

Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Fishing boats huddling together waiting for a storm to pass. Koh Samui Island,Thailand. Photo by Chris Bird, Flickr.

Fish catches by Thailand’s distant-water fleet fishing throughout the Indo-Pacific are almost seven times higher than what the country reports to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a new study by the Sea Around Us reveals.

In 2014 alone, the Asian country caught 3.7 million tonnes of fish outside its Exclusive Economic Zone but reported only 247,000 tonnes. This figure, although substantial, represents a decline from peak numbers reached in the mid-1990s when the more relaxed rules of Thailand’s neighbours allowed for massive catches of over 7 million tonnes per year. Back then, as much as 80 per cent of the catch was unreported and much of it likely obtained illegally, the study reveals.

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Daniel Pauly knighted by the French government

Daniel Pauly Legion of Honour

 

On French National Day, July 14, 2017, the Sea Around Us Principal Investigator, Daniel Pauly, woke up to some exciting news: President Emmanuel Macron had issued a decree naming him Chevalier de la Légion D’Honneur.

Later that day, Pauly received a phone call from the French consulate in Vancouver. He was told that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had nominated him in recognition of his work researching the impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems.

The Chevalier is a distinction in France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour and it is granted, for life, to individuals with a minimum of 20 years of public service or 25 years of professional activity with “eminent accomplishments.” Knights belong to The Order of Merit, which was created in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle.

Following months and weeks of excitement and preparation, on November 16, 2017, the knighting ceremony was held at the University of British Columbia’s Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Daniel’s family, closest friends, colleagues, and students were joined by a select group of diplomats, dignitaries, famous environmentalists, and university representatives for the special occasion.

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Using data to better manage fisheries subsidies

Tim Cashion in Geneva.

Tim Cashion in Geneva.

Text and photos by Tim Cashion.

In early October, I had the opportunity to travel to Geneva to present on behalf of Sea Around Us and the Fisheries Economics Research Unit for a roundtable discussion on fisheries subsidies. The discussion was convened by the E15 Initiative and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development. The ICTSD has been working closely with Rashid Sumaila of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit for several years on the topic of fisheries subsidies. They have used his research in partnership with Sea Around Us to inform countries of the amounts of fisheries subsidies and designated them as the good (beneficial), the bad (harmful), and the ugly (ambiguous).

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Photo by Jean Pierre Larroque, One Earth Future.

Somali fisheries urgently need better data

Phot by Jean Pierre Larroque, One Earth Future.

Photo by Jean Pierre Larroque, One Earth Future.

In order to back government efforts to overcome the likely legacy effects of illegal fishing and piracy, stakeholders of Somali fisheries should emphasize improvements to their catch data, a new study finds. The paper, recently published in Marine Policy, also reveals that the amount of fish taken out of the country’s waters over the past six decades was 80 per cent higher than officially reported.

The paper, produced by scientists with the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia, the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean at the University of Western Australia, One Earth Future’s Secure Fisheries program and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, shows how the lack of proper oversight, monitoring and control in years prior to the establishment of the new Federal Government in 2012 allowed for industrial foreign vessels to exploit Somali marine resources or to operate under dubious licenses.

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FishTracker

Shareholders in fishing companies at risk from fisheries over-exploitation: Research

FishTracker

 

Shareholders in the world’s major publically-listed fishing companies are exposed to risk from overfished fish stocks, with many of these stocks underperforming or at risk of collapse, a new study reveals.

The report, produced by the Fish Tracker Initiative in collaboration with the Sea Around Us, states that 32 per cent of the 97 stocks targeted by fishing giants such as South Korea’s Dongwon Industries and Silla Co., Norway’s Austevoll Seafood, and Canada’s Clearwater Seafoods are overfished.

“This is an important finding because it matches the global average. Globally, at least 31 per cent of fish stocks are overfished and we would have thought that large publicly listed fishing companies like the largest 19 identified here, whose combined annual revenues exceed $4 billion, as well as institutional investors would not be exposed to this, but they are,” says Tim Cashion, a scientist with the Sea Around Us who led the fisheries research in the report.

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