Cebu News

Study: Fish data in Phl inaccurate

Kristine B. Quintas/FPL - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The University of British Columbia has recommended a re-examination of fisheries data for the Philippines after its recent study revealed that 32 billion kilograms of fish catch goes unreported globally every year.

The new study on fish reconstruction led by Dr. Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller through the Sea Around Us project at UBC revealed a big gap in data for global fish catch.

The study showed that the actual fish catch is at 109 billion kilograms.

This number is 30 percent higher than the 77 billion kilograms reported in 2010 by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to the scientists, the discrepancy was traced to the exclusion of artisanal and subsistence fishing, as well as products of illegal fishing and discarded fish.

Most countries focus their data collection efforts on industrial fishing, the scientists added.

In the Philippines, discrepancies were also seen in FAO data from 1950 to 2010.

Data showed that fish catch was increasing from 0.24 million tons per year in the 1950s to 0.9 million tons per year in the 1970s.

Commercial fishing, which is 66 percent of the fish catch, expanded in the 1980s resulting in an increase of about 2.4 million tons per year by 2010.

The study, however, showed that fish catch in the country should have been lower by four percent between the 1970s to the 1980s and higher by two percent in the late 1990s to 2000s.

“If the new catch estimates are considered realistic, they should imply a serious re-examination of the Philippine fisheries statistics system,” the study recommended.

In a statement, Pauly said accurate catch information is critical, as it can help fisheries managers understand the health of fish populations and inform fishing policies.

Lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines, said the study only shows that “we’re doing much worse.”

“It’s been a known fact that we don’t sustainably utilize our marine resources. If we continue to exhaust our marine resources, there will be nothing left for the future. We have to give our oceans a chance to restore its natural bounty,” she said.

Senior scientist for Oceana Philippines Jimely Flores also said discrepancies in reporting fish catch will affect the baseline data, which is an important component for fisheries management.

“If our baseline data is wrong, our fisheries management strategies will not be accurate and not effective,” Flores said.

She also encouraged scientists and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to work together to revisit the data on fish catch in the country for more efficient fisheries management.

“There should be more respect for science as the basis for policies in fisheries management,” she added. — (FREEMAN)

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