Comments on FAOs State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA 2016)

Daniel Pauly, Dirk Zeller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


Comments are provided on several points in the 2016 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It is shown that data assembled by FAO from submissions by countries suggest a "stable" trend mainly because the declining catches of a number of countries with reliable statistics is compensated for by unreliable statistics from countries where reporting increasing catches may be politically expedient, e.g., China, Myanmar. Also, concerns are raised as to why FAO chose to ignore the well-documented data 'reconstruction' process, which fills the gaps that exist in data reported by countries to FAO. It is being ignored despite its importance for governance and resource conservation being well known. This process and its findings could be used by FAO to encourage countries to improve their data reporting, including retroactive corrections. This is important in view of successive analyses of the status of fisheries resources undertaken by FAO (published in current and past SOFIAs) and also in modified form by the Sea Around Us. This suggests a degradation of marine fisheries, and, if trends continue, a crisis by mid-century. Finally, comments are presented on the proposition that aquaculture will overtake wild capture fisheries in terms of food production, notably because current aquaculture requires huge quantities of wild-caught fish as feed. Indeed, this emphasis on aquaculture-as-substitute for fisheries raises issues of food security and malnutrition in developing countries, from which much of the fish used as feed originates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-181
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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