UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Global Inland Capture and Culture Finfisheries Follow Different Trends When Evaluated by the Human Development Index Sorensen, Peter W.; Palomares, Maria Lourdes D.


To assess whether and how socioeconomic factors might be influencing global freshwater finfisheries, inland fishery data reported to the FAO between 1950 and 2015 were grouped by capture and culture, country human development index, plotted, and compared. We found that while capture inland finfishes have greatly increased on a global scale, this trend is being driven almost entirely by poorly developed (Tier-3) countries which also identify only 17% of their catch. In contrast, capture finfisheries have recently plateaued in moderately-developed (Tier-2) countries which are also identifying 16% of their catch but are dominated by a single country, China. In contrast, reported capture finfisheries are declining in well-developed (Tier-1) countries which identify nearly all (78%) of their fishes. Simultaneously, aquacultural activity has been increasing rapidly in both Tier-2 and Tier-3 countries, but only slowly in Tier-1 countries; remarkably, nearly all cultured species are being identified by all tier groups. These distinctly different trends suggest that socioeconomic factors influence how countries report and conduct capture finfisheries. Reported rapid increases in capture fisheries are worrisome in poorly developed countries because they cannot be explained and thus these fisheries cannot be managed meaningfully even though they depend on them for food. Our descriptive, proof-of-concept study suggests that socioeconomic factors should be considered in future, more sophisticated efforts to understand global freshwater fisheries which might include catch reconstruction.

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