Fisheries data collected around the world largely exclude smaller types of catch, including artisanal, subsistence, and discards.
Industrial fishing is big business. Official global statistics show that commercial operations take approximately 80 million metric tons of fish from the oceans each year. However, as scientists uncover the extent of small-scale fishing—which often goes unreported—this amount may actually be much larger.
According to a study, published Jan. 19, 2016, most countries focus their data collection efforts on industrial fishing, in part because small-scale operations can be difficult to track. The resulting data largely exclude smaller types of catch such as artisanal, subsistence, and illegal fishing, as well as discards, masking the true extent of fishing worldwide.
One promising approach, described in the study is to better capturing the scale of fishing around the world is “catch reconstruction,” which offers estimates using an array of sources and methods.