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Widespread fishing activity study inaccurate, says Europêche

Staff Writer |
A study which found that commercial fishing covers over 55% of the ocean's surface has been disregarded as inaccurate by Europêche.

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The study states that the area fished is four times bigger than the area occupied by agriculture in terms of square km, but Europêche is arguing that it is based on scientifically unsound data; overestimates the proportion of the seabed where fishing occurs; has little use for fisheries management; and provides no new insight since automatic identification system (AIS) use is widely enforced to show the exact location of vessels.

Referring to the research, led by Global Fishing Watch and which tracked satellite messages transmitting the position of 70.000 fishing vessels for the past four years, Javier Garat, president of Europêche, said: “It is appalling to see how an organisation using nonreliable data is allowed to publish a study based on estimates and assumptions in a scientific journal.

“AIS is a tool for safety purposes, never designed to be a policing or scientific tool since it is not encrypted and it can be easily altered.”

Garat stressed: “This type of studies, far from providing objective and scientific information, only serve to confuse and deceive public opinion, and obey other interests distant from sustainability and good governance of the fishing activity.”

Europêche pointed out that Global Fishing Watch states on its website that the data system it uses “may show apparent fishing activity where fishing is not actually taking place”.

t added that while the inference of the study is that industry is putting more pressure on fish populations, tuna fisheries in the high seas constitute the majority of the “footprint”, which have been monitored and controlled for decades by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

It added tuna stocks are performing well, while tuna fishing has no impact on the marine seabed and a low carbon footprint.

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