Research ArticleENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

High seas fisheries play a negligible role in addressing global food security

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Science Advances  08 Aug 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 8, eaat8351
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat8351
  • Fig. 1 Average contribution (million metric tons) of seafood-producing sectors, 2009–2014.

    The high seas catch represents 2.4% of total global production. Data: FAO 2016 and Sea Around Us.

  • Fig. 2 Imports of species caught on the high seas.

    Solid arrow width proportional to destination’s share of total global imports for each species group (fresh, frozen, unprocessed form), and dashed arrows indicate likely form of consumption in primary importing country or, if applicable, processed product produced. Primary and secondary importers of processed products indicated by weighted dashed lines based on market share of imports (based on information in the literature). Data: FishStat (see table S2).

  • Table 1 Species caught on the high seas, 2002–2011.

    Data: Sea Around Us.

    SpeciesFamilyAverage annual high seas catch
    (103 metric tons)
    Proportion of total catch from the
    high seas (%)
    Skipjack tunaScombridae966.635
    Yellowfin tunaScombridae562.534
    Bigeye tunaScombridae335.764
    Chilean jack mackerelCarangidae30722
    Argentine shortfin squidOmmastrephidae149.525
    Blue whitingGadidae130.810
    Chub mackerelScombridae113.110
    Albacore tunaScombridae104.542
    Japanese anchovyEngraulidae96.66
    Jumbo flying squidOmmastrephidae83.87
    Pacific sauryScomberesocidae81.79
    SwordfishXiphiidae64.752
    Antarctic krillEuphausiidae37.424
    Japanese jack mackerelCarangidae28.99
    Northern prawnPandalidae27.88
    Flathead grey mulletMugilidae23.313
    Frigate tunaScombridae17.17
    Narrowbarred Spanish mackerelScombridae14.63
    Atlantic codGadidae11.31
    Southern bluefin tunaScombridae11.148
    KawakawaScombridae10.64
    Greenland halibutPleuronectidae7.67
    Shortfin mako sharkLamnidae7.618
    Striped marlinIstiophoridae6.553
    Pacific bluefin tunaScombridae5.321
    Patagonian toothfishNototheniidae4.817
    European anchovyEngraulidae4.50
    Black marlinIstiophoridae424
    Indo-Pacific sailfishIstiophoridae411
    Antarctic toothfishNototheniidae3.7100
    Wellington flying squidOmmastrephidae339
    Patagonian grenadierMerlucciidae2.41
    Indo-Pacific king mackerelScombridae2.11
    Atlantic bluefin tunaScombridae25
    Silver seabreamSparidae27
    Blue marlinIstiophoridae1.427
    Atlantic sailfishIstiophoridae1.324
    Roundnose grenadierMacrouridae1.217
    Bullet tunaScombridae1.15
  • Table 2 Top high seas fishing fleets based on retained catch volume, 2002–2011.

    Data: Sea Around Us and FishStat (see table S3). Y, yes; N, no; NA, not applicable.

    Fishing countryAverage annual
    high seas catch
    (103 metric tons)
    Contribution to
    global high seas
    catch (%)
    High seas fleet
    contribution to
    total domestic
    catch (%)
    Prevalence of
    severe food
    insecurity (% of
    population)*
    Primary or
    secondary
    exporter of high
    seas species?
    High seas species
    exported
    China71417.05.3<0.5 ± 0.07NNA
    Taiwan50312.042.70.8 ± 0.62YSkipjack, albacore,
    southern bluefin,
    bigeye, yellowfin,
    Pacific saury, marlins,
    and swordfish
    Chile3408.17.43.7 ± 1.22YPatagonian and
    Antarctic toothfish
    and jack mackerels
    Indonesia2776.65.83.3 ± 1.86YFrigate tunas and
    kawakawa
    Spain2606.217.91.5 ± 1.12YPacific and Atlantic
    bluefin and swordfish
    South Korea2546.111.90.9 ± 0.82YChub mackerel,
    skipjack, bigeye,
    squids, and seabream
    Japan2315.55.10.6 ± 0.57YAlbacore and Pacific
    saury
    Ecuador1854.432.38.7 ± 2.50NNA
    India1283.03.612.4 ± 2.43YSpanish and king
    mackerel
    Philippines1192.85.312.0 ± 2.11NNA
    Total301171.7

    *Values from (46). These estimates were determined using a new method for estimating national food insecurity [FIES (Food Insecurity Experience Scale)] and are for 2014. For reference, the highest rate of severe food insecurity is 63.9% (Liberia) and the lowest is ≤0.5% (Azerbaijan, Bhutan, China, Israel, Switzerland, Sweden, and Thailand).

    Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/4/8/eaat8351/DC1

      Table S1. Data sources and associated analyses.

      Table S2. Species caught on the high seas and associated primary and secondary importers from 2002 to 2011.

      Table S3. Species caught on the high seas and associated primary and secondary exporters from 2002 to 2011.

    • Supplementary Materials

      This PDF file includes:

      • Table S1. Data sources and associated analyses.
      • Table S2. Species caught on the high seas and associated primary and secondary importers from 2002 to 2011.
      • Table S3. Species caught on the high seas and associated primary and secondary exporters from 2002 to 2011.

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