WWF: Bycatch higher than estimated
Upward of 40 percent of the global seafood catch is unused or unaccounted for, according to report co-authored by the World Wildlife Fund and released on Wednesday.
Titled "Defining and Estimating Global Marine Fisheries Bycatch," the report estimates that annually more than 38 million metric tons of seafood, constituting more than 40 percent of the global seafood catch, is unused or unmanaged and should be deemed bycatch.
"The health of our oceans cannot be restored and fisheries sustainably managed if 40 percent of the global fishing catch is unused or unmanaged," said James Leape, director general of WWF International.
If bycatch is redefined to include all unused or unmanaged seafood, the global seafood bycatch is actually much higher than previous estimates, which put it at 7 million to 27 million metric tons annually.
"In many cases, fish and marine animals are thrown back to sea dead or dying and currently even if bycatch is used there is no way to tell whether it was sustainable to remove it in the first place. It is an insidious and invisible form of overfishing," said Amanda Nickson, head of WWF's Bycatch Initiative and the report's co-author.
"In addition to ensuring that all fishing activities are appropriately managed, simple, proven methods, such as more selective fishing gear and observers on fishing vessels, already exist to reduce bycatch," added Nickson. "But they must become the rule, as part of long-term sustainable marine management, and not the exception."