February 23, 2018
CEO Note: New study finds industrial fishing covers more than 55% of the ocean’s surface
BY: Andy Sharpless
How heavily are we fishing the oceans? A new study suggests our seas are under tremendous pressure, with more than half of the oceans “subject to industrial-scale harvest.” That’s an area four times the size of all land-based agriculture combined.
The new study, published in the prestigious journal Science, was produced by Global Fishing Watch in collaboration with research partners at University of California Santa Barbara, National Geographic Pristine Seas, SkyTruth, Dalhousie University, Stanford University, and Google. As the Washington Post noted in its story about the study:.
Thursday’s findings relied on data from Global Fishing Watch, a collaboration encompassing Oceana, SkyTruth and Google. Researchers compiled billions of data points from tracking systems that the International Maritime Organization requires for about 70,000 fishing vessels. The result was a picture of fishing that the study, led by David Kroodsma of Global Fishing Watch, says “has never been directly quantified.” Because of data limitations, the percentage of the oceans fished could be as high as 73 percent, the study said. “Fishing is happening almost everywhere and all the time,” said Jackie Savitz, chief policy officer for the advocacy group Oceana. “I think people don’t really have a sense of how heavily fished our oceans are and how intensely they are fished.” She said the intensity of global fishing documented by Thursday’s study is far greater than researchers have been able to track in the past.
Global Fishing Watch, first launched in 2016 as a joint project of Oceana, Google, and SkyTruth, has made it possible for us to better understand the global scope and impact of commercial fishing. These sorts of insights into global fishing activity are vital to Oceana’s ongoing efforts to make fisheries more transparent and, ultimately, more abundant. And they would not have been possible without your support of Oceana and Global Fishing Watch. Thank you.