What to Make of Recent Data Showing 10% of Fish are Discarded at Sea? / by Francisco Blaha

I have quoted work from the CFOOD crew before. While some in the fisheries world may not like their messages, one has to admit that they always have a point, and are good at driving it. As in the case of their post from the title.

Always be careful whom you point fingers .

Always be careful whom you point fingers .

Not going to copy and paste their words, read them here, but just bring a bit of perspective and the brilliant graph they rescued. Obviously, we are still terrible at handling all foods, so some work there will have equal or more impact than the one needed for diminishing discards. 

A paper published last week titled, Global marine fisheries discards: A synthesis of reconstructed dataconcludes that commercial fishermen have thrown away (discarded) about 10% of catch over the past decade. Researchers, led by Dirk Zeller, used catch reconstructions – estimates of how many fish were caught – to approximate that around 10 million tons of fish are discarded at sea per year. This number is down from a high of 18 million tons in the 1990s. For context, here is a figure put together by Dana Gunders at the National Resources Defense Council in the 2012 report, Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. Fishing discards are considered “Production Losses.”

Zeller et al. 2017suggest that the decline in discards are a result of declining fish stocks, though they acknowledge that gear and management improvements could also play a role. Indeed, worldwide fish stocks have remained relatively stable since 1990s, indicating that perhaps management and gear technology have played a larger role in reducing discards than researchers propose.