Agreeing with FAO: Comments on SOFIA 2018

Daniel Pauly, Dirk Zeller

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The last three bi-annual State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) gave the
impression that they downplayed the stark reality of declining trends in global marine fisheries catches. In contrast, the most recent SOFIA 2018 deserves praise for seemingly striking a different tone, and for more directly and clearly identifying the key issues faced by marine fisheries. This includes the acknowledgment of globally declining catches and several data deficiencies, such as the ‘presentist’ bias in official data reported by countries to FAO, and the utility of catch data reconstructions in informing such data deficiencies, as advocated by the Sea Around Us for nearly two decades. FAO also acknowledges its personnel limitations and hence the need to collaborate with non-governmental entities. Further, we congratulate FAO on explicitly addressing in SOFIA 2018 two major challenges in global marine fisheries, namely the effects of climate change and the problems related to subsidies for the enormous Chinese fishing fleets. We applaud FAO for this different, more open tone in SOFIA 2018, which even includes animal welfare consideration, and we hope that it signals a new period of increased FAO engagement with Civil Society and academia, to address the important fisheries and sustainability challenges facing our world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-333
Number of pages2
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


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