fishing fleets dump nearly 10 million tons of good fish back into the ocean
every year, according to new research.
study by researchers with Sea Around Us, an initiative at the University of
British Columbia's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and the University of
Western Australia, reveals that almost 10 per cent of the world's total catch
in the last decade was discarded due to poor fishing practices and inadequate
management. This is equivalent to throwing back enough fish to fill about 4,500
Olympic sized swimming pools every year.
the current era of increasing food insecurity and human nutritional health
concerns, these findings are important," said Dirk Zeller, lead author for
the study who is now a professor at the University of Western Australia and
senior research partner with the Sea Around Us. "The discarded fish could
have been put to better use."
discard a portion of their catch because fishing practices damage the fish and
make them unmarketable, the fish are too small, the species is out of season,
only part of the fish needs to be harvested--as with the Alaska pollock roe--or
the fishers caught species that they were not targeting, something known as
also happen because of a nasty practice known as high-grading where fishers
continue fishing even after they've caught fish that they can sell," said
Zeller. "If they catch bigger fish, they throw away the smaller ones; they
usually can't keep both loads because they run out of freezer space or go over
study examined the amount of discarded fish over time. In the 1950s, about five
million tons of fish were discarded every year, in the 1980s that figure grew
to 18 million tons. It decreased to the current levels of nearly 10 million tons
per year over the past decade.
decline in discards in recent years could be attributed to improved fisheries
management and new technology, but Zeller and his colleagues say it's likely
also an indicator of depleted fish stocks. As the Sea Around Us' 2016 global
catch reconstruction paper revealed, catches have been declining at a rate of
1.2 million tonnes of fish every year since the mid-1990s.
are now declining because we have already fished these species down so much
that fishing operations are catching less and less each year, and therefore
there's less for them to throw away," he said.
and his colleagues Tim Cashion, Maria Palomares and Daniel Pauly, say that the
study also shows how industrial fleets move to new waters once certain
shift of discards from Atlantic to Pacific waters shows a dangerous trend in
fisheries of exporting our fishing needs and fishing problems to new
areas," Cashion said.
paper "Global marine fisheries discards: a synthesis of reconstructed
published last week in Fish & Fisheries.