New film “The Missing Fish” reveals true magnitude of global fishing

Our latest film, still in production, features the work of Dr. Daniel Pauly and his team as they work on a massive global fisheries project. The film tells the story of how the scientific team pieced together evidence to calculate the world’s total fish catch, and will broadcast later this year.

National fisheries numbers generally consist of commercially caught fish and don’t tend to include small scale fishing like recreational, subsistence and artisanal fishing, not to mention illegal fishing or fishing that happens far out to sea. However since fish caught in any of these ways are still removed from the ecosystem it is important to account for them if we are ever going to achieve sustainable fishing at a global level.

Trying to figure out the quantity of fish caught in these unrecorded ways has been an enormous global detective mystery. Our film follows Dr Pauly’s scientific team as they uncover fishing data in highly unusual places and track down evidence of fishing from unlikely sources like historical colonial records, import export documents, and even google maps. This decade long big-data project has high stakes as millions of people around the world rely on the oceans for food. Fragile ecosystems, like coral reefs, are routinely fished beyond their capacity and could enter a spiral of collapse if we don’t take a full account of how much fish we remove. Results published in Nature Communications show that we have drastically underestimated the true extent of fishing worldwide.

You can find additional information on the scientific project on The Sea Around Us website.

Accounting for the world's unreported fish catch - The Missing Fish