DATABASE: Hauling In Better Catch Data

Science  09 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5681, pp. 157
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5681.157d

With many of the world's fisheries depleted or in decline, policymakers and resource managers need solid data on past catches to guide their decisions about future fishing. But for many countries, such information hasn't been available, according to Reg Watson of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Now he and his colleagues have launched Sea Around Us, a new site that provides these numbers.

To calculate figures for the years 1950 to 2001, Watson's team combined information on the ranges of commercial species from sources such as FishBase with records of fishing permits and activity from the United Nations and other bodies. You can trawl catch data for the territorial waters of individual countries, for “high seas” areas not controlled by any nation, and for large ecosystems, such as the Caribbean and Bay of Bengal. The site also lists treaties and agreements that cover each country or area. For more information on particular species, follow links to accounts on sites such as CephBase.

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