Watch An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch from Living Oceans Foundation on Vimeo.

Around the world millions of people depend on fish, but what if we’re running out? As government and industry regulators track the quantity of fish we catch, and claim the oceans can handle the huge catches, fish numbers keep dropping.

World-renowned fisheries expert, Dr. Daniel Pauly, suspects that we are dangerously overfishing the world’s fish supply. He believes that bad data masks how close we are to running out of fish, to prove it he and his team have conducted the most ambitious fishing investigation the world has ever seen.

How much fish have we caught?

His goal – to find out once and for all how much fish we have removed from the ocean since industrial fishing began. This requires calculating the amount of fish caught through illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (together these are labeled as IUU fisheries). Fish caught in one of these ways is usually overlooked and they are virtually never counted.

We need to know how many fish have been taken from the ocean in order to figure out what we can catch in the future.” – Dr. Daniel Pauly

Big data

It’s a big-data problem on a massive scale, and it has taken about fifteen years to calculate the true fish catch for each country in the world.

However, there is some hope that we could get accurate fishing data in real-time. A pilot study underway in Honduras may make it possible to collect this kind of data as we go, and would allow even the most remote fishermen to send information about how much fish they catch, to their national government.

Discover a large ocean data project on the state of the world’s reefs by exploring The Global Reef Expedition.


The hope is that the new research included in this film will be incorporated into national catch estimates in every country so that fisheries managers can manage their resource sustainably for the future. Known for his work on shifting baselines and small-scale fisheries, this film will discover if Dr. Pauly’s Sea Around Us Project could lead to the greatest shake-up ever of world fisheries.

An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch was co-produced with the Smithsonian Channel 

Enjoy these short films to learn more about IUU fishing, catch reconstruction, and the future of fishing: