Coral Reefs

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 25–39 | Cite as

Synthesis of underreported small-scale fisheries catch in Pacific island waters

  • D. ZellerEmail author
  • S. Harper
  • K. Zylich
  • D. Pauly


We synthesize fisheries catch reconstruction studies for 25 Pacific island countries, states and territories, which compare estimates of total domestic catches with officially reported catch data. We exclude data for the large-scale tuna fleets, which have largely foreign beneficial ownership, even when flying Pacific flags. However, we recognize the considerable financial contributions derived from foreign access or charter fees for Pacific host countries. The reconstructions for the 25 entities from 1950 to 2010 suggested that total domestic catches were 2.5 times the data reported to FAO. This discrepancy was largest in early periods (1950: 6.4 times), while for 2010, total catches were 1.7 times the reported data. There was a significant difference in trend between reported and reconstructed catches since 2000, with reconstructed catches declining strongly since their peak in 2000. Total catches increased from 110,000 t yr−1 in 1950 (of which 17,400 t were reported) to a peak of over 250,000 t yr−1 in 2000, before declining to around 200,000 t yr−1 by 2010. This decrease is driven by a declining artisanal (small-scale commercial) catch, which was not compensated for by increasing domestic industrial (large-scale commercial) catches. The artisanal fisheries appear to be declining from a peak of 97,000 t yr−1 in 1992 to less than 50,000 t yr−1 by 2010. However, total catches were dominated by subsistence (small-scale, non-commercial) fisheries, which accounted for 69 % of total catches, with the majority missing from the reported data. Artisanal catches accounted for 22 %, while truly domestic industrial fisheries accounted for only 6 % of total catches. The smallest component is the recreational (small-scale, non-commercial and largely for leisure) sector (2 %), which, although small in catch, is likely of economic importance in some areas due to its direct link to tourism income.


Catch reconstruction Artisanal fisheries Subsistence fisheries Recreational fisheries Unreported catches 



This is a contribution from the Sea Around Us, a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and The Pew Charitable Trusts. We thank the US Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council for funding the initial catch reconstruction for US Pacific islands, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation for funding and R. Gillett for advice and comments during the reconstruction process.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sea Around Us, Fisheries CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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