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Arctic fisheries' catches 75 times higher than previous reports: UBC research
Date:2/4/2011

ndertaken studies on 15 coastal communities in the Alaskan Arctic that rely on fisheries for subsistence. The estimated fish catch during this period in Alaska alone totaled 89,000 tonnes.

While no catches were reported to FAO by Canada, the research team shows commercial and small-scale fisheries actually amounted to 94,000 tonnes in catches in the same time span.

Meanwhile, Russia's total catch was actually a staggering 770,000 tonnes from 1950 to 2006, or nearly 12,000 tonnes per year.

"Our work shows a lack of care by the Canadian, U.S. and Russian governments in trying to understand the food needs and fish catches of northern communities," says Pauly, who leads the Sea Around Us Project at UBC.

Researchers from the Sea Around Us Project have previously shown a trend of fish stocks moving towards polar regions due to the effects of climate change. This, coupled with increased accessibility of the Arctic areas due to melting sea ice, will place immense pressure on the region for future large-scale fisheries.

"This research confirms that there is already fishing pressure in this region," says Pauly. "The question now is whether we should allow the further expansion of fisheries into the Arctic."

"Conservation efforts in the Arctic have so far focused on the exploitation of marine mammals seals and polar bears are frankly easy on the eye and plain to see," says Zeller. "None of them would survive, however, if we allow over-exploitation of fish in this delicate but so-far neglected ecosystem."


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Contact: Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
604-822-2234
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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